Highway 1 Update, 1/27/23

Date:Friday, January 27, 2023, at 5:15 p.m.
District:05 – Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz Counties
Contact:Kevin Drabinski or Alexa Bertola
Phone:(805) 549-3138 or (805) 549-3237

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

UPDATE #19

GOOD PROGRESS AS REPAIRS CONTINUE TO HIGHWAY 1

ON THE BIG SUR COAST 

MONTEREY / SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTIES – Caltrans and contracted crews continue to repair damages to Highway 1 which have resulted in a closure of the roadway from just south of Ragged Point in San Luis Obispo County to Lime Creek in Monterey County.

Polar Star

A major slide took place at Polar Star, one mile south of Ragged Point in San Luis Obispo County on Jan. 4, 2023. Crews have continued make good progress working from the top of this slide and have addressed major drainage control issues. Crews are removing roughly 2,000 cubic yards of material every day.

The estimated time for the reopening of Highway 1 through Polar Star is three weeks, weather permitting.

SLO / Monterey County Line

Repairs continue at two locations near the county line. At the first, just south of the county line in San Luis Obispo County, crews with excavators continue to remove slide material from the roadway. At the second, at PM 0.8 in Monterey County, crews are addressing the failure of an embankment. Once the roadway is open for travel at Polar Star, access through PM 0.8 will be available to the public but will be subject to one-way reversing traffic control with the installation of a temporary signal.

Mill Creek Slide

After a major slide at Mill Creek at PM 18 on Jan. 15, 2023, crews initially cleared a pathway in the highway to permit staff and heavy equipment to get in position to make repairs. The slope of the slide at Mill Creek is incredibly steep and a specialized spider excavator was brought in to work the slide from the top down. A second spider excavator began work there today. Other heavy equipment will join the effort as slope conditions permit. Work over the next weeks will bring debris down on to the roadway removing the opportunity for travel through the slide area. 

The estimated time for the reopening of Highway 1 through Mill Creek is three weeks.

Paul’s Slide

Activity at Paul’s Slide at PM 22, accelerated with recent rains and major activity took place there on Jan. 14, 2023. With the slide having pushed segments of the concrete barriers of the catchment all the way across the road, contracted crews are getting by driving on part of the southbound lane and the shoulder, and then only with the help of spotters.

Unfortunately, many large-scale landslides do not release until a few months after a storm has passed, so continued monitoring at Paul’s is warranted. At present, it is not possible to remove debris material from the catchment area or the toe of the slide as it is providing a resisting force against the driving force of the slide from above. 

Crews flew unmanned aircraft over the slide area to gather data to be used in selecting strategies for designing possible engineering solutions. Initial reports indicate that the slide activity has been substantial and will likely require a major removal of material from the slope which could take several months.

The estimated time for the reopening of Highway 1 through Paul’s Slide is unknown at this time. Updates will be provided as more information becomes available.

Highway 1 From North of Paul’s Slide to Lime Creek

Crews are working at a location known as Morning Glory at PM 23.5 where one lane of the highway is settling dramatically. Crews continue to patch the roadway using cold mix asphalt. Crews also continue to remove slide material at PM 25 which has covered the northbound lane. Additionally, crews are at work to replace a guardrail at PM 30.6 where the roadway and embankment has been undermined by storm erosion.

Note: It is currently estimated that Highway 1 will reopen between the north gate at Paul’s Slide at PM 22 and the current closure at Lime Creek at PM 32 on Friday, Feb. 3. Signs at southbound Highway 1 at Lime Creek will alert travelers that the road is closed except for travel by locals.

The closure of Highway 1 from the southern approach in San Luis Obispo County continues to be set at the elephant seal vista area, four miles north of San Simeon. That location was selected as it provides an opportunity for large vehicles to turn around, an opportunity that is largely unavailable north of that location.

Road information and updates can also be found on Caltrans District 5 Social Media platforms: Twitter at: @CaltransD5, Facebook at: Caltrans Central Coast (District 5) and Instagram at: Caltrans_D5.

Helicopter Resupply Day

Delivery at Lucia Lodge, north of the slides

I have friends on both sides of the relay — delivery & distribution. My friend north of the slide, Connie McCoy sent me all these photos. Thank you Connie. I heard from friends on the distribution end yesterday, the it was a wonderful gathering and a chance for people who hasn’t been out of their own area of the coast to catch up with others from other enclaves. I will post those later today.

L to R: KSBW reporter, LaVerene McLeod, Kenny McLeod, and Hal Latta, all local CERT volunteers who assisted with picking up Orders for individuals at Safeway, Pet food provided by the SPCA, and with the assistance of our Physician’s Assistant, Sharen Carey, prescription medicines from CVS. Our local postmaster, Andrew brought down the mail as well.

The first delivery of essential goods to the isolated residents of Big Sur yesterday afternoon was a success, and will continue this afternoon.

A big thank you to the Community Association of Big Sur, Monterey County Food Bank with the Big Sur Share, Monterey County SPCA, and Safeway in the Crossroads for helping make this possible. Also, Monterey County Sheriffs and CHP helicopter 70, Lucia Lodge, USFS, Pacific Valley School, and a wonderful community of the South Coast. Distribution photos later today. I am taking a few hours off.

Local Assistance Center moves location

The County of Monterey is continuing it’s local assistance center support for residents impacted by winter storms.

The County of Monterey has closed its Local Assistance Center (LAC) at the Spreckels Veterans Memorial Building and is opening a second center at a new location. The new spot is at the Monterey County Government Center – Schilling Place, 1441 Schilling Place in Salinas. It will open Saturday, January 28th.  

The first center was open January 21st to 26th. This second center will be open from Saturday, January 28th to Sunday, February 5th, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily.

The center at its new location will have all the resources that are currently available, a wide array of support services from local, state and federal agencies as well as non-profits and charitable organizations. A list of participating agencies is attached.

The center will be located in the former Economic Development Department space of the Schilling Place complex. There is ample parking both in the Schilling Place lot and across the street. 

Monterey Salinas Transit will continue to provide free bus service to the center from Pajaro and San Ardo.  Any resident who has been impact by our winter storms is encouraged to stop by the LAC and take advantage of the services and assistance that is available to you.

Maia Carroll

Communications Coordinator

County of Monterey

South Coast Pacific Valley School PTO gofundme for families in need.

Stuck between the slides — families with children are stranded, out of work and trying to survive. It isn’t over, yet. Help us support this effort by donating to this gofundme and help them make it through this difficult time. I can personally vouch for the organizers, who are both wonderful young women with families themselves.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/supporting-our-stranded-south-coast-neighbors?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1

The beginning of January, a series of storms hit the Big Sur coastline and hit the south coast extremely hard. Numerous mudslides left hundreds of people stranded. Currently, the highway has been on strict lockdown for the last three weeks and Caltrans is saying it could be 4 more weeks of lockdown. The only road out is a treacherous backcountry 4×4 drive, it’s 3 hrs one way to get groceries and provisions, and this is not a viable option for a lot of our families. Businesses have been closed for close to a month, and families are really struggling to make ends meet. School has been closed since before the holiday break, and families are working hard to keep kids caught up on school work and keep life as normal as possible. Pacific Valley School PTO has started this go fund me to raise money for our school families who are stranded and out of work. All funds raised will be going directly to Pacific Valley Families in need.

History and Relationships — road closures on the South Coast in 1995

Last night, I started reviewing what I remembered about past closures, how people responded, including Caltrans. I sent out a few requests for stories from the before times: when the relationships between Caltrans and local residents was a cooperative one, not an adversarial one. I remember a time when if a local’s vehicle got stuck or broke down, Caltrans would help, if possible. I have seen and heard stories of Caltrans, CHP, State Parks, and the USFS working together and helping one another along with the local residents. When did that end, and more importantly, why did it end? THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR LOCAL CAL TRANS CREW, IT WAY ABOVE THEIR PAY GRADE, AND WE ALL KNOW THAT THEY ARE DOING A YEOMAN’S JOB AGAINST UNBELIEVABLE ODDS.

My most memorable time of cooperation was in the floods of 1995. I was newly wed to a Caltrans maintenance worker the year before. I worked at Pacific Valley School, and each winter, a group of high school students went to the Sierras to ski. This is a story of the road closure from the trip we took in 1995, slightly abbreviated.

The morning we were supposed to leave, I was keeping a close eye on the weather and what I was seeing was not good. When the kids came back from their last ski run, they wanted to talk me into allowing one last run before we headed out. I nixed that idea. Rocky Baird drove the van with the kids and Mariska Harris and I were in my Range Rover.

The storm hit as we were heading home, and before we got to Carmel, we found out the Carmel River Bridge had washed away, so we would have to take the longer way home through Fort Hunter Leggett (FHL). The Green Bridge over the Nacimiento River had also washed out. There we met Captain Kelly Collins of the USFS Pacific Valley station. He told us of another crossing and he lead us to it. It, too, was washed away. We turned back to 101 and went south. We stopped in Paso Robles to have dinner and plan our return. I called the Willow Springs Caltrans station and asked them about the road to the south. They told us the road to the South was closed with a slip out and a slide. They suggested we get a room in San Simeon for the night, leave early the next morning and they would meet us at the problem spot (Soda Springs) and “punch” us through.

It was a harrowing drive to Soda Springs, but Baird led with the van and Harris and I followed in my Range Rover. We met Caltrans and indeed they got us all through and home. It was not easy for them nor for us, but we did it.

The Carmel River Bridge was fixed in record time with a “Bailey” bridge provided to Caltrans by the US Army. It provided a temporary bridge while a new one was built. There were thousands of people stranded back them, including the very affluent Carmel Highlands. It didn’t take them as long to rebuild the entire bridge as Caltrans says it will take to open up the three slides on the South Coast — Paul’s Slide, Mill Creek, and Polar Star. Amazing what numbers and wealth can accomplish.

If you have a road closure story you want to share, feel free to send it to kwnovoa@mac.com I can’t promise to publish it, but I can promise to read it.

Caltrans update #18 with photos

Date:Tuesday, January 24, 2023, at 2:30 p.m.
District:05 – Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz Counties
Contact:Kevin Drabinski or Alexa Bertola
Phone:(805) 549-3138 or (805) 549-3237

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

UPDATE #18

HIGHWAY 1 REMAINS CLOSED AS REPAIRS CONTINUE

AT THREE MAJOR SLIDES 

MONTEREY / SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTIES – Three major slides on Highway 1 on the Big Sur coast continue to keep the roadway closed. Repairs are underway at Paul’s Slide PM 22, the Mill Creek slide at PM 18, and at the Polar Star slide in northern San Luis Obispo County, one mile south of Ragged Point.

Paul’s Slide PM 22 / Major Activity Took Place Jan. 14, 2023

Paul’s Slide has once again accelerated in response to the recent heavy rainfall. The longstanding strategy of maintaining a catchment area protecting the highway with k-rail and a flexible rockfall fence is no longer feasible. The slide has advanced into the catchment area, over the protective k-rail and fence, and into the traveled way. Debris slides, flowing mud, and rockfall, now travel down slope directly onto the traveled way with nothing to stop them. Movement of the slide is unpredictable; the slope continues to adjust as the slide moves, causing material to flow and rocks to roll into the remaining lane.

The estimated time to reopen Highway 1 at Paul’s Slide with lane closures and traffic control in effect is three to four weeks.

Mill Creek Slide PM 18 / Major Activity Took Place Jan. 15, 2023

This slide flowed out and over the cut slope above northbound Highway 1 and onto both lanes of the roadway. Maintenance and contracted crews cut through the slide material along the highway, leaving a saturated soil mass that is actively pumping out water and mud onto the highway. Caltrans directed the contractor to stop digging into the slide and to wait until access from above the slide could be accomplished to remove it safely. The headscarp of the slide is approximately 100 feet above the highway and water is pumping from a spring into the displaced slide material between the headscarp and the highway below the slide. The saturated and oversteepened slope is on the edge of stability and is very likely to fail catastrophically, that is, in a rapid manner, in the near future.

The estimated time to reopen Highway 1 at Mill Creek is three to four weeks.

Polar Star / Major Activity Took Place Jan. 4, 2023

The slide at Polar Star brought rocky debris material down to the roadway which made it impossible to begin repairs working from the side of the slide at roadway level. Crews cut a path through the base of the accumulated rock debris in order to gain access for equipment, which is being used to remove the slide material, and which is helping advance the work of restoring safe highway access. The failure of the rocky material could occur at any time and has been failing slowly since the pathway was cut, constantly bringing rocks and soil down to the roadway from the oversteepened temporary cut. Unlike Paul’s Slide, there is no catchment area to offer a buffer between the slope and the roadway. As of Jan. 21, crews were able to begin work from above the slide, working down, and they continue to make progress on the slope cut and with slide removal. These repairs continue to bring material down which covers the entire roadbed.

Weather permitting, the estimated time to reopen Highway 1, for at least limited access at Polar Star, is now set at 4 weeks due to the progress made on the slide in recent days.

Passage is prohibited through Paul’s Slide, through Mill Creek, and through Polar Star, due to the dangerous conditions that exist at these slides.

Anyone attempting to pass through these slide areas are advised that they are not only putting themselves at grave risk, but they are also transferring that risk to public safety and first responder teams who would have to respond to any incidents.

Caltrans is committed to providing access to the roadway as soon as road conditions permit. Updates will be provided as soon as new information becomes available.

The closure of Highway 1 from the southern approach in San Luis Obispo County is located at the elephant seal vista area, four miles north of San Simeon. That location was selected as it provides an opportunity for large vehicles to turn around, an opportunity that is largely unavailable north of that location.

FIRIS OES-24 Mapping Airplane

I’ve only seen this used on Wildfires to map the size and location of wildfires, but found this of the Mill Creek Slide on twitterf

No new info re resupply as of 8 am, 1/24/23

No information was released yesterday about the possible helicopter resupply. Currently, Lisa Gehring is arranging for either Sand Dollar Beach parking lot, if downed trees can be cleared, or at Pacific Valley School across the street.

From NOAA’s NWS:

The official forecast, as a result, carries only
slight chance POPs for most of the area Sunday into Monday. It`s
also safe to say, temperatures will be below normal by Sunday and
into early next week. Still seeing signals for a wetter pattern
developing next week.

Helicopter Supply plan

As Caltrans said yesterday, the county is working with other agencies to provide a helicopter ressupply of food, pet food, and medications. The Health Clinic is coordinating medications through our point person Jasmine Horan. If meds are received by mail, there will be mail provided on the Helicopter (whew, another 30 days of bp meds!) CABS is coordinating food resupply with Safeway and the SPCA for pets. They have a form for each which I will publish later today, once I get the official notice on how and where the helicopter supply will work.

Here is the medications list, but some people complained we did not receive enough notice, so not sure what the deadline might be. I posted it on FB this am, but did not have time to come back here, but here it is:

For those who haven’t seen this, this is from the Health Center and Sharen Carey:

MEDICATION NEEDS

Big Sur Health Center is coordinating with CABS, BSF, and County OES to help obtain medication refills for all those trapped between Mill Creek and Polar Star.
If you need any medication refills, please follow these steps:

  1. Call your medical office first thing Monday morning and explain you have an urgent, time-sensitive medical need.
  2. Ask the office to call your prescriptions BY NOON to CVS pharmacy at Carmel Crossroads.
    Request a minimum supply of at least 2 weeks, more if insurance allows.
  3. Call CVS at 624-0148
  • Tell CVS you are part of the medication supply for Big Sur.
  • Pay any necessary co-pays or other charges.
  • Tell them Sharen Carey from Big Sur Health Center will be picking up your prescriptions for you.
  1. Jasmine Horan is your point of contact for communicating your medication needs. Please email Jasmine at Jasminestarhoran@gmail.com with the following information:
  • Full name
  • Date of Birth
  • Number of prescriptions (no prescription names)
    I will be picking up medications at 3:00 pm on Monday, placing them in individual bags for privacy, and boxing them for transport on the helicopter that will be bringing all supplies over to you.
    We know some of you receive your prescriptions by mail. A request to include mail on the transport helicopter has been made.
    Thank you and please stay safe!
    Sharen Carey, PA-C
    Big Sur Health Center