Highway 1 closures update – Saturday, February 18, 2017


Dear All,

Yesterday, afternoon, Congressman Jimmy Panetta convened a meeting, via conference call, with key stakeholders and county and state elected officials who represent our area.  Participants included Senator Bill Monning, Aline Reyna, District Representative for Assembly Member Anna Caballero, Monterey County Supervisor Mary Adams,  Monterey County Sheriff, NOAA, retired US Congressman Sam Farr, and representatives from Caltrans, California Office of Emergency Services (OES), Monterey County Administrative Office and Office of Emergency Services, United States Forest Service, California Department of State Parks and Recreation (CDOR), CHP, Chief Karstens-Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade, Butch Kronlund/CPOA, Cyril Chappellet/Rancho Rico, and myself and other agency/elected official staff representatives.

This email is intended to provide a summary of key points and as most participants were on phones, there were spotty and often problematic connections – in short any errors, omissions, or mischaracterizations are my responsibility as I am not referring to an independent transcript of this meeting.

Caltrans District 5 Deputy Director for Maintenance Operations, Sara von Schwind provided briefing on current conditions/outlook for Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge (PCB) and closures on south coast:

PCB at post mile marker 45.5 is 316’ long

Strong possibility that northern abutment could also be compromised by the landslide

Caltrans needs drilling rig on site to accurately map slide plane – hoping to have drilling rig on site by Tuesday, February 21, 2017

PCB structure continuing to move.  From Thursday to Friday it moved one additional degree out of alignment (4 degrees to 5 degrees)

PCB showed additional indications of damage associated with vehicle movement during Wednesday convoys

Normal for landslides to continue moving up to 30 days after rains end

Not optimistic that bridge will be able to be re-opened to pedestrian or vehicle traffic

Detour analysis is being conducted for both pedestrian and/or vehicle traffic

Structural analysis focusing on repair, rebuild, temporary structure (i.e. Bailey Bridge) options

Span length considered to be too long for a Bailey Bridge option

Lack of sufficient soil stability on north and south ends of bridge make placement of a shorter bridge up canyon problematic

Detour discussions included analysis of old haul road, used in the 1964-65 construction of the current bridge, looking at CDPR property down canyon, and private property (Rancho Rico) up canyon:

Haul Road -Landslide making old haul road route problematic, if not impossible.

Southern end of old haul road compromised by older landslide and small creek

CDPR trail options – Due to concerns about debris flows coming down Pfeiffer Canyon and Post Creek during inclement weather, analysis of potential trail options by CDPR will be done after rains stop and area dries out

Rancho Rico trail options – under consideration, Chappellet family wishes to be of assistance, but has to evaluate impacts on fragile and currently damaged road structure on Rancho Rico and liability issues

New south Coast closure at Chimney Slide, just south of Limekiln State Park at post mile marker 20.0

No Caltrans equipment in northern enclave (PCB to Big Creek)

Caltrans currently in maintenance mode, not yet requesting permits for “permanent” fixes/projects until conditions stabilize.  Primary condition for stabilization is dry out period sufficient for earth movement to stop causing additional closures/hazards

In response to Senator Monning query about best guess on when road would again be open, Sara replied that on the south end it might be a couple of months and hopefully one week for locals, with the caveat that conditions on the ground stabilize and current weather systems do not create new closures or expand existing ones.  All time estimates were couched with many caveats given tremendous uncertainty about continued impacts of ongoing weather events.   No estimate offered on north end as analysis on landslide plane, structural integrity of bridge ongoing along with evaluation of possible by pass options – all of which are affected by ongoing weather events.

Gerry Malais, Monterey County Director of Emergency Services, briefed group on emergency operational planning:

Medical evacuation by air support approved by State OES

Re-supply by air support not approved by State OES at this time

Senator Monning – Offered his assistance in facilitating rapid unemployment insurance support for displaced employees and requested that his office be provided with names of all employees seeking to apply for unemployment insurance.  Big Sur Chamber and CPOA will work on developing that data to submit to Senator Monning’s office.

Congressman Panetta – Next week’s BSMAAC meeting to be cancelled but will continue to convene stakeholder meeting process on Highway 1 closure weekly until further notice

6 thoughts on “Highway 1 closures update – Saturday, February 18, 2017

  1. Thanks, Lucas, for filling in for Kate. Hope she can get re-connected again. Must be strange for her to be out of the loop…

    I’m surprised that OES did not provide a timeline for when they will decide to arrange air re-supply runs for residents or offering evacuation by air for those needing/wanting to leave the area. Glad Bill Monning is expediting unemployment applications, but that won’t help those stuck south of PC Bridge.

  2. Suzi: I read Sen. Monning’s suggestion as just asking for names of people, not necessarily their applications, with the help of BS Chamber and CPOA. I’ll try to spread the word to people on the south coast, since I know some have already started the process.

    This was all good information. I hope the choices get even better with the larger circle of discussion. Thanks Lucas for providing it.

  3. Again, why not a little ” puddle jumper ” helicopter to shuttle folks from one side of the cyn to the other–the way they did before the Bailey bridge was up over Carmel River when that bridge went out to sea?

  4. Yes, Vicki, that’s what I was thinking, too. There are those trapped between slides who cannot totally abandon the living things that depend upon them for survival: plants, animals, etc. Otherwise they would have evacuated when the bridge (or other slide) was passable.

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