One Hour Delays on Highway 1 suspended

Date:Wednesday, January 12, 2022
District:05 – Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz Counties
Contact:Kevin Drabinski or Jim Shivers
Phone:(805) 549-3138 or (805) 549-3237



SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY – Continued efforts to remove slide material from above the roadway on Highway 1 in northern San Luis Obispo County has progressed to the point that the one-hour delays for travelers which began last week will be suspended.

Beginning Thursday, Jan.13, travelers will encounter one-way reversing traffic control in the immediate vicinity of the Polar Star slide, one mile south of Ragged Pont at Post Mile 71.8 weekdays from 7 am to 5 pm with delays not expected to exceed 15 minutes.

This schedule is anticipated to be in effect until the end of next week.

Message and directional signs will be in place to alert travelers in the area. Please drive safely in this area due to the presence of highway workers.

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

Weds reading: Highway One construction, part 1, by Stan Harlan


It was the spring of 1933 that much activity occurred, in preparation for the construction of Highway One, on our property at Lopez Point. I was going on 6 years of age while Donald was already 8 and Gene was 12. At first, there was much activity by survey crews establishing where the highway was to actually be built. A convict crew then came through with hand tools building a trail on grade with the intended highway location. All of this activity originated from the south where we had already observed the blasting and heavy machinery advancing slowly up the coast for at least a year.

On a number of occasions we had walked down the coast on the Old Coast Trail and observed the techniques being used to create a roadway through some very rough country. Where there were rocky outcrops the convicts were assigned tunnel building for the placement of dynamite and black powder charges. I remember Lime Kiln Point in particular where the whole rock bluff was interlaced with man-sized 3 foot by 5 foot tunnels through the solid rock.

Tunnel construction was done with compressed air operated rock drills which were hand held and connected to a large engine operated air compressor located at the end of the work road with a long set of rubber hoses and steel pipe. The rock drills made holes in the rock approximately an inch and a quarter in diameter and sometimes were made many feet into the rock wall. The rock drill extensions came in different lengths, but they all had a bit or point threaded onto one end and the other end was forged to fit the business end of the rock drill. Some extensions were only 2 feet in length and others were 4 ft., 6 ft. 8 ft., etc. As the holes got deeper a longer drill rod extension was used. The drill rods had a small hole in the center extending their full length so compressed air ejected the rock flakes and dust out of the drilled hole and back into the face of the man holding the rock drill. After a number of holes had been drilled into the rock face of the tunnel the convicts would load them with dynamite and connect the igniters or (caps as we called them) electrically with a long piece of 2 conductor wire (blasting wire as we called it) to a hand operated blasting generator. When all personnel were evacuated from the tunnel a man pushed down hard on the plunger of the blast generator causing an electrical charge to ignite the caps and set off the dynamite charges.

Excavating the resulting rock rubble was done by hand by loading the pieces into a steel buggy that had four wheels riding on steel rail tracks. The loaded buggy was either pushed by hand or pulled with a rope to the tunnel outlet where it was dumped and then returned for another load. As the tunnel was extended the rail tracks were also extended. The convicts doing this kind of work seemed to accept the dangers and the unpleasantness of the job and even became quite proud of their special abilities. Some became true experts at placing the right quantity and type of explosives to accomplish the best result with the greatest efficiency. I was told that convicts on good behavior could have their sentences reduced by one day for each day they put in on projects like this. (Article also appeared in the January edition of the Big Sur Round-up. The Round-up is published monthly and can be sent to you for only $11 per year. Send your check to The Round-up, P.O. Box 234, Big Sur, CA 93920.)