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Pacific Coast Highway south of Big Sur to reopen by end of July, officials say

On unstable ground: Engineers and road workers fight Mother Nature while trying to fix Highway 1 at Mud Creek in Big Sur.(Video by Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

A scenic stretch of Highway 1 in Monterey County that was buried last year by a massive landslide will reopen by the end of July, according to the California Department of Transportation.

The Pacific Coast Highway has been closed at Mud Creek for 14 months. On May 20, 2017, a slide in the middle of the night — the largest landslide ever recorded on the Big Sur coast — covered a third of a mile of the highway and buried it beneath 40 feet of dirt and rock. The slide also added 15 acres to California’s picturesque coastline.

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The new quarter-mile highway will run over the landslide and “will be buttressed with a series of embankments, berms, rocks, netting, culverts and other stabilizing material,” Caltrans said in a statement.

The agency said building atop the landslide was cheaper and quicker than other options, like building a tunnel.

The highway construction has cost about $54 million. The new target date is nearly two months sooner than anticipated. Last month, Caltrans officials said the agency was aiming to reopen the roadway by mid-September.

“Rebuilding Highway 1 and restoring traffic along the Big Sur coast has been our priority, and by opening the highway sooner than expected, it will boost the many central coast communities affected by this major landslide,” Richard Rosales, acting director for Caltrans District 5, said in a statement.

The reopening date could be reevaluated in early July, officials said.

Once the highway reopens, there could still be intermittent weekday lane closures and roadwork for several months to finalize repairs, according to Caltrans.

(Lorena Elebee / Los Angeles Times)
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