The southern route into Big Sur on Highway 1 is going to be closed for the next several months, Caltrans says, in an update on the progress of work to clear debris from a major landslide that occurred this past winter.

Big Sur residents and much of Northern California is well aware that whenever we have a rainy winter, it's likely to mean Big Sur will be cut off from civilization for some period of time. The land above and below Highway 1 in the Big Sur area is pretty dynamic in general, with dirt, sand, and rocks that are slowly trying to make their way to the ocean, and Mother Nature frequently having a laugh at the expense of California's highway engineers who insist on maintaining a road there.

This year's big slide happened at an area called Paul's Slide — though this was far from the only debris slide this rainy season. A section of Highway 1 here was partly inundated by dirt and debris as far back as January, as California got pummeled by heavy rains. But then Paul's Slide did what it has done in the past, sliding in a major way in mid-March and completely burying the roadway.

Photo via Caltrans
Photo via Caltrans
Photo via Caltrans
An overhead view of the work. Photo via Caltrans

Caltrans District 5 tweeted an update with the above photos on Tuesday, noting that work has been ongoing seven days per week. But a goal of finishing all this work by late June appears to have given way to a different projection.

"This massive undertaking to remove some 500k cubic yards of material is still scheduled be completed in several months," Caltrans says.

The work also includes what appears to be concrete being poured to stabilize the slopes above and below what will be the finished, re-established highway.

In another update from two weeks ago, Caltrans explained, "The massive undertaking to remove an estimated 500,000 cubic yards of material and to sculpt and stabilize the slope is being met by crews working 12-hour shifts, seven days a week."

This isn't quite as significant a landslide as the one we saw in May 2017, which took out a huge section of Highway 1 at Mud Creek. That was called the largest landslide in state history at the time, and it took over a year of cleanup and realignment of the road, which finally reopened in mid-July 2018.

For several months in mid-2017, though, Big Sur residents had to do some serious maneuvering for supplies, as the road to the north was cut off as well due to work on Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge.

Separately, work is continuing to clean up another  bunch of debris at Dani's Creek Slide, and that is expected to be completed next month.

People driving down Highway 1 from the north now have to turn around at Big Creek Vista Point. And, as Caltrans writes, "Travelers in Morro Bay will now have over 65 miles of coast to enjoy to the north as Highway 1 passes through Cayucos, Cambria, San Simeon, Ragged Point, Gorda, and points beyond, before arriving at the turnaround south of Limekiln."

Anyone coming from the south hoping to drive to Big Sur, though, until further notice, will need to take 101 north to Salinas, and then take Route 68 west to Monterey, then go south on Highway 1 from there.

Previously: Another Major Rockslide Closes Highway 1 South of Big Sur For Several Weeks, Maybe Longer