California Highway 1 collapse leaves 2,000 tourists stranded

About 2,000 motorists, mostly tourists, were stranded overnight after a section of scenic Highway 1 in California's Big Sur collapsed on Saturday.

Officials with the California Department of Transportation said Sunday that a portion of the Southern Highway along the Central Coast will be closed to the public while crews work on affected areas. Large sections of the road fell into the sea. Also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, this highway features rocky cliffs, lush green hills, wide beaches and coastal redwood forests.

No injuries were reported. Caltrans, the agency, did not provide an estimate of when the highway is expected to be fully reopened.

Officials haven't said what led to the collapse, but rain fell near the Rocky Creek Bridge, about 17 miles south of Monterey.

Caltrans spokesman Kevin Drabinski said officials determined the damage was severe enough to close the highway to motorists Saturday afternoon.

“Caltrans knew we had lost part of the southbound lane, so it was necessary to close Highway 1 completely,” said Mr. Tropinski said.

Mr. Drabinski added: Some traffic began to move by Sunday afternoon, and officials from the Monterey County Department of Emergency Management sent convoys with police escort to evacuate people from affected areas, county spokesman Nicholas Pasculli said.

Visitors who drove through the area are believed to be one of those stranded The most beautiful in the world During the Easter holidays, he had to sleep in temporary shelters at 75 percent capacity, Mr. Pasculli said. Others stayed at local hotels, bed and breakfasts and campgrounds, while others slept in their cars, he added.

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Another convoy is planned for Monday morning if the crew cannot reach everyone by Sunday night, he said.

“We're hoping to get all the visitors out today. That's our hope. That's our goal,” Mr. Pasculli said. “Suffice it to say, it's a holiday weekend. You know, this is a beautiful area, people love to visit.

Monterey County issued a disaster declaration, and officials urged people to avoid the highway. “We are asking everyone to stay away from the area to allow the safe passage of emergency personnel, emergency vehicles and essential personnel,” Mr. Pasculli said.

An unseasonably cold and intense storm system along the Southwest Pacific coast this weekend is bringing rain, flash flooding and snow to California and other parts of the country. Flood warning Forecasters said the storm would move along the coast and move inland as it was in effect Sunday in the San Diego area.

The National Weather Service's Los Angeles office said thunderstorms will continue Sunday. Wrote on Sunday. Weather forecasters warned people to prepare for hail, strong winds and even the risk of tornadoes.

Last year, relentless winter storms in California caused landslides that blocked a 20-mile stretch of Big Sur for weeks.

In January 2021, a storm caused similar damage to a section of the highway, and sections were closed after heavy rains threatened to trigger mudslides and rock slides.

Over the years, landslides have taken out sections of California's Highway 1, which stretches more than 650 miles, from south of Los Angeles to north of San Francisco, through Big Sur and over the Golden Gate Bridge. More importantly, in May 2017, about 6 million cubic yards of sediment moved after rainfall, adding 15 acres of beach. The highway was repaired and reopened a year later.

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Prior to that, the largest landslide to damage the highway occurred in 1983, further north at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

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