More bad news today out of Big Sur: In addition to most of the area being inaccessible to tourists for the duration of the tourist season this year due to a bridge on Highway 1 that's in the process of being replaced at Pfeiffer Canyon, the aftermath of our very rainy winter continues with a massive mudslide in the area of Mud Creek that has now buried a large swath of Highway 1 under 40 feet of debris. The aerial video above, via the Monterey County Sheriff's Office and the San Luis Obispo Tribune, shows the hillside that's crumbled down over the highway and all the way down to the ocean, altering the coastline itself.
The Tribune reports that the major mudslide happened Saturday night one of many this year but by far the biggest and work crews who were already working on fixing buckled pavement in this closed section of the highway were all removed last week as the hill looked increasingly unstable.
This slide occurred about nine miles north of the San Luis Obispo County line, and it's just one more major setback for locals in the area who already have to contend with hiking goods and supplies and out of the Big Sur area at the north end because of the missing bridge.
Additionally, debris has been falling in the area of Paul's Slide, 12 miles north of the Mud Creek slide, halting Caltrans work there. Susana Cruz, Caltrans District 5 public information officer, issued a news release explaining that access by locals and delivery trucks may be cut off at a moment's notice, as it was Monday around noon, due to excessive fog, or visible tumbling debris.
Caltrans spokesperson Colin Jones tells the Los Angeles Times that the slide at Mud Creek is "a massive slide," adding, "We've never seen anything like that."
Jones further explained that just because winter is over and the sun has come out along the Big Sur coast, "it doesn't mean the ground isn't shifting now based on what happened over the winter."
Caltrans crews are expected to wait out the slide activity before returning to assess how to shore up the hillside and begin digging out and replacing the now interrupted coastal highway.
Meanwhile, work on Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge is expected to take most of the year if not longer. Tourists, if they are able to hike or helicopter in or take the long slow detour from Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, are going to have a decidedly quiet experience indeed as car traffic is now stymied from both directions, north and south.
Andrew Molera State Park and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park were previously expected to reopen, following cleanups from winter storms, next month.
See below for an updated Highway 1 map that does not include the most recent Mud Creek slide.