BIG SUR, Calif. – California transportation officials are targeting mid-September for reopening a stretch of iconic Highway 1 in the Big Sur region that was blocked almost a year ago by a massive landslide following winter storms.
The slide has hindered visitors and hurt businesses on the major tourism route among classic California coastal vistas and landmarks between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The California Department of Transportation's estimate for reopening the highway is subject to change, however, The Tribune of San Luis Obispo reported Monday.
"Caltrans will continuously evaluate the opening date as work progresses," agency spokeswoman Susana Cruz said in an email.
Another update will be issued in July, and even after the reopening, lane closures and road work could continue, Cruz said.
Highway 1 has been dogged by slides since December 2016, but the one that hit at Mud Creek near Ragged Point in May 2017 was monumental . Millions of tons of earth moved, displacing a total of 75 acres (30 hectares) of land.
The vast amount of material buried the highway perched on the slopes of mountains rising dramatically out of the Pacific.
The debris slid well out into the ocean, creating 15 acres (6 hectares) of new coastline about 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) north of the Monterey-San Luis Obispo county line.
Caltrans has since been working to stabilize the slide in order to rebuild the highway over it. The work included building a massive rock seawall at the foot of the slide.
Cruz wrote that new stabilizing features include embankments, berms, rocks and netting.
"This strategy is allowing Caltrans to rebuild the road more quickly and at a lower cost than other alternatives such as structures, a tunnel or major earthwork that puts additional fill into the ocean," she wrote.
The work is being done about 25 miles south of where another segment of the highway was blocked when a storm-spawned landslide wrecked a bridge in early 2017. Last October, Caltrans opened a $24 million replacement span designed without support columns that could be vulnerable to future slides.