BIG SUR — California transportation officials have opened a brand-new $24 million bridge on Highway 1, at last reconnecting the long-isolated southern section of Big Sur with the rest of the community.
The Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge opened Friday afternoon following a celebration of the project's completion, just eight months after the old bridge was irreparably damaged by a landslide in the wake of last winter's heavy rains.
The old bridge's closure and subsequent demolition in mid-March split the touristy Big Sur area in two, stranding more than 400 residents on the southern side.
In late March, a new trail helped link the northern and southern sections for locals, but Friday's bridge opening marks the first direct vehicular access.
Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty says such projects normally take several years to complete.
The new structure has 15 steel girders, each weighing 62 tons, that span the 310-foot canyon. It has no support columns, eliminating vulnerability from future slides.
As for the other gigantic landslide that severed another section of Highway 1 on the Big Sur coast just south of the community of Gorda?
That one's going to take a while longer.
This post includes reporting from The Associated Press.