Cal Trans suspends preemptive closures of Highway 1


MONTEREY COUNTY – In a break from protocols which were in effect over the last two winters, Caltrans announced today that it will not preemptively close Highway 1 along the Big Sur coast this winter when heavy rains are in the forecast.

Caltrans had previously closed portions of Highway 1 in Monterey County out of concerns about the performance of landslides at Mud Creek, one mile south of Gorda, and at Paul’s Slide, just north of Limekiln State Park. Advanced monitoring and assessment at these two, still active slides, helped inform this decision.

Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins said, “Our absolute priority for Highway 1 and the Big Sur Coast is safety, for the local community, the travelling public, and our road maintenance crews. Our continuous measurement and monitoring of these slides give us confidence that we will be able to react to any activity there without having to close the highway in advance.”

Annual work to prepare Highway 1 for winter has taken on a new dimension this year and progress is being made at locations affected by this summer’s Dolan Fire.

Caltrans crews, alongside contractors engaged for this effort, continue to inspect and fortify drains and culverts along the roadway. Many of these are in areas susceptible to impacts from potential debris flows originating from the Dolan Fire burn scar.

To keep drainage systems from being blocked by rocks and debris, crews have constructed protective measures and inlet redundancies at dozens of locations, including armoring the entrance to culverts with debris flow racks. These features are critical to keeping culverts open and preventing water from spilling on to the roadway.

Crews have also installed flexible debris flow barriers consisting of interwoven steel ring nets and cable infrastructure at two critical drainage locations to minimize the risk of debris flows reaching the highway.

Caltrans crews have also scrambled their way up innumerable hillsides to perform rock scaling – identifying and removing loose debris that might fall on the road below. Though rock scaling is performed every year during winter prep work, special emphasis was required at burned hillsides damaged by the Dolan Fire.

Additionally, Caltrans has made significant progress on a pavement rehabilitation project on Highway 1, from Carpenter St. in Carmel, to the Torre Canyon Bridge. Though some follow up work may continue on this $24 million project through next summer, major paving and permanent lane striping have been completed along this nearly 35-mile stretch of highway.

Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins said, “Highway 1 along the Big Sur coast is a treasure. It poses challenges like erosion and landslides even in years when we don’t have a fire. As they always do, the professional women and men of our Caltrans crews will keep an active eye and exert continuous effort to keep this renowned highway safe.”

Caltrans reminds motorists to move over and slow down when

driving through highway work zones.

For traffic updates on other state highways in Monterey County, travelers may contact Caltrans District 5 Public Affairs at 805-549-3318 or can visit the District 5 website at:

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Kevin Drabinski

Public Information Officer

Caltrans District 5