Open Letters to the Community

From the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Department:
Dear Big Sur residents,

For some of us here we are again, for others this may be your first extended road closure.

The Fire Brigade met with Cal Trans, some business representatives, the Chamber of Commerce, CPOA, CERT, St. Parks, and the USFS yesterday. Before going into the meeting I had spoken with Sheriff, AMR and CHP representatives. Most of you have seen the email from the Chamber by now regarding the highway. I wanted to address other possible questions, in particular public safety, that you may have.

First I would like to address medical emergencies, including vehicle accidents. AMR, (American Medical Response) will still respond 24/7, the ambulance is stationed at our firehouse for all emergencies requiring an ambulance. CALL 911 as usual!!
Depending on where the emergency is located we have plans in place for transportation, it may be that the patient will need to be transported to Cambria or King City depending on the circumstances. AMR has made sure we will have a crew staffing the ambulance, and has been in touch with Cal Star helicopter and Cambria ambulance making them aware of our situation.

USFS has some crew members and engines available in the remote chance we have a vegetation fire, but more importantly they will help us with a structure fire if needed.

SO is making plans to have a deputy come down and stay here until we get one lane open. They immediately started sending over units to cover from King City the day the road went out. Today they brought down one of the rescue trucks which is being staged at the firehouse if needed.

CHP is also planning on having an officer stay in the area for the duration.

State Parks has rangers here who are peace officers in the off chance something happens while we are between shift changes with CHP and SO.

CERT members are available if needed, they will also be sending out an email to possibly try and schedule town trip needs.

and as always your friendly Fire Brigade members will be responding if needed!

I have spoken with PG&E and they will be sending down a truck and crew starting Saturday night and through Sunday when the worst of the storm is expected. After that they will evaluate conditions to determine if they will continue to stay on longer.

At our meeting yesterday we also discussed things like fuel, garbage, propane etc. As the road is open and passable to the south, my understanding is it will be business as usual.

An email has been sent out regarding any medical needs and medications from the Health Center.

The schools have plans for Captain Cooper and the High school students.

The Post Office hours will be 10:00 to 2:00 PM, with mail delivery as usual. (Not confirmed but I was told that Fed Ex would deliver but not UPS.)

We will have another meeting with Cal Trans when they have more information and after that we may schedule a community meeting. We will do our best to get information out via emails.

Thank you to all the agencies for so quickly stepping up to the plate to help us out. It is very much appreciated.

And last but not least thank you to Cal Trans for all your work, everyone please be careful out there driving, look out for Cal Trans units working in the road way!

Please feel free to call the Fire Brigade with any questions I may not have covered here, 667-2113. Meanwhile, enjoy the quiet time and be safe!

Thank you,


Martha Karstens
831-667-2113 W
831-595-9461 C

From the Big Sur Health Clinic:

At this point, we have no idea how long the road will be closed. If you take routine medications, it is very important that you take steps now to assure that you don’t run out.

If you receive your medication via mail order, check your supply and order refills well in advance. We have been advised that the mail will continue to be delivered.

If you don’t already receive your prescriptions via mail, now is the time to start! Contact your insurance company and make arrangements to set up your mail order plan, then contact the health center to get your prescriptions ordered.

If you do not have the capability of accessing a mail order pharmacy, it is extremely important that you check your supply of medications and contact your pharmacy to request refills now!

An alternative option, to avoid driving all the way to Monterey, is to select either Cambria Drugs or CVS in King City, then advise the health center staff to change your pharmacy location. It is important that you take care of this now to avoid running out. Do not wait until you are down to the last day or two as refills may not be completed in time to coincide with your trip to the pharmacy.

The Health Center remains open and available to you at this time.

Sharen Carey
Big Sur Health Center
From CHP Officer Ben Grasmuck:

I just wanted to add a few things to your post(s). We were very lucky we didn’t lose one of the Caltrans maintenance crew workers yesterday. They were standing on the southbound lane when it started to give way. They are often under appreciated, but the Big Sur and Willow Creek crews are some of the hardest working and dedicated workers the state has.
I want to personally thank all of the locals I talked to today. As frustrating as this is, (most) everyone was understanding and trusted Caltrans’ judgment that the road cannot be declared safe until they test the soil under the northbound lane. It may be okay to drive across the lane and shoulder, but there is no way to know that right now. Next week they will drill some holes and see what is under the northbound lane. Until then, the road will likely be closed for all traffic (vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian).
I was able to take a few more photos with a real camera (the others were taken with my iPhone). I love the irony of the “Rock Slide Area” sign.

Ben Grasmuck
From Big Sur Chamber of Commerce:

This afternoon (3/17/2011) at 3:00 PM, a number of community members ranging from Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, CPOA, CDPR, USFS, Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade, CERT, and various residents and business members met in an ad-hoc meeting with Steve Price, District Division Chief – Maintenance and Operations for the Department of Transportation District 5 (Caltrans). At that meeting, Steve Price conveyed the following information:

Caltrans full focus and number one priority at this time is to restore access to one lane (the north bound lane) of Highway 1 at the slide location. Given the time requirements to conduct geotechnical analysis and to award an emergency contract, the current best case scenario is to accomplish this goal within one month. Thus, for planning purposes the community should plan on Highway 1 being closed to the north for at least one month. Following the completion of the one lane opening, the second lane opening would become the next priority, though the planning and execution of that stage would likely require a significantly more extensive planning and execution period.

If weather or other environmental conditions or the underlying site conditions make it impossible to restore access to the north bound lane, then a far more complex and time intensive planning period will unfold to install an appropriate viaduct, bridge, or other constructed solution to restore access to both lanes of Highway 1. Steve Price stated that he has full authority and access to funding resources to award appropriate emergency contracts to effect these repairs, both short and long term, so the biggest hurdles appear to be the underlying geological stability of the site, the potential impacts of upcoming weather events, and the time and effort needed to properly study and prepare engineered solutions.

All contractors on the Highway 1 projects between this location and Cambria will be advised that they must not plan for any closures that would result in Highway 1 being closed both north and south at the same time.

The closure at the Rocky Creek is a hard closure and until further notice will not be able to accommodate any vehicle traffic including emergency vehicles.

Nacimiento-Ferguson road is currently open and in very good condition. Monterey County Public Works is committed until further notice to inspecting and maintaining this road twice a day. Caltrans, though, is recommending that the general public use Highway 46 as the primary access between Highway 101 and Highway 1.

The Big Sur Chamber of Commerce will continue to regularly interface with Caltrans and other agencies associated with the efforts to reopen Highway 1 and will provide updated information reports as new information becomes available.

Thank you.

Kirk Gafill
President, Big Sur Chamber of Commerce

2 thoughts on “Open Letters to the Community

  1. Kate, as always your bulletins are valuable and much appreciated.
    Here at Hawks Perch, Namaste, River Inn, Local Color, Maiden Pub environs, I sense a kind of stunned ethereal disconnect in us all. What will it mean, what will tomorrow bring, who will close or stay open, who will the kids stay with, who’s making the long trek to the grocers. Darling Lynne and Julian of Namaste Massage did a food run (a good 10 hours) yesterday and got a silent escort through the fort roads. The newspaper guy parked on one side and hand carried the papers from the other side truck early this morning. The deli guy’s a hero, 5 hour commute; the road is very quiet indeed, safe to let the cat out. I sold a painting yesterday to intrepid tourists, a very encouraging surprise, I must say. We’re all hoping acess of one lane will be possible soon. Thanks again for all you do as rumors fly. We are reminded of the tough stuff that courses through our veins!

  2. Was wondering for infastructue purposes has there been any talk on posilby getting PG& E down this way and Fuel for Generators, etc….. for the long haul???

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