May 14, 2024

Governor Newsom announces the reopening of Highway 1, ahead of schedule

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The Governor announced today that a portion of Highway 1, near Big Sur, which was severely damaged by recent storms, is set to reopen more than a week ahead of schedule this Friday, May 17.

BIG SUR – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that Caltrans will open the portion of Highway 1 closed by the Rocky Creek slip-out to traffic, starting at 6:30 a.m. this Friday, May 17 – eight days sooner than previously expected.

Crews have been working day and night to quickly repair the damage to Highway 1 caused by recent storms, which has disrupted the lives of individuals living in and around Big Sur – limiting access to the area and hampering tourism. Thanks to the diligent efforts, traffic will resume eight days ahead of schedule – bringing relief and a sense of normalcy back to one of California’s most iconic coastal communities.

Governor Gavin Newsom

This portion of Highway 1 will reopen with the use of a 24/7 signalized traffic control. This temporary signal will provide unrestricted public access with one-way alternating traffic in both the north and southbound directions.

“Highway 1 is the jewel of the California highway system and our crews have been working non-stop for the last month and a half so Californians can have unrestricted access to this iconic area of our state,” said Caltrans Director Tony Tavares. “I thank Governor Newsom, Senator John Laird and our elected officials for their unwavering support, the residents and businesses for their patience and the crews for reopening the roadway as quickly and as safely as possible.”

“We are deeply grateful to have Highway 1 open and functional an entire week ahead of schedule. I want to sincerely thank Caltrans and the people of Big Sur for their work, effort, and patience through this process,” said State Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz). “This was a true team effort, including Governor Newsom and his staff, Caltrans executives and contractors, Assemblymember Dawn Addis, Sheriff Tina Nieto, the California Highway Patrol, Big Sur Fire, and leaders in and the community of Big Sur. Highway 1 is a vital lifeline for communities on the Central Coast, and so our ongoing task will be to ensure this route remains resilient and open.”

On March 30, a rockslide below Highway 1 south of the Rocky Creek Bridge left the southbound lane partially undermined and impassable. Approximately 6 feet of the pavement and a portion of an unreinforced masonry retaining wall that supported the highway fell to the ocean about 170 feet below the road.

Governor Newsom surveys damage near the Rocky Creek Bridge earlier this month.

In order to stabilize the remaining southbound lane and preserve the northbound lane, crews drilled, installed and grouted 40 vertical and 75 sub-horizontal steel elements into the slope. The steel elements, or rock dowels, are covered by an application of shotcrete to protect the exposed rock slope. This work required Caltrans to close the roadway in both directions at Rocky Creek, aside from twice-daily convoys through the slip-out area.

Now that Caltrans has stabilized the southbound lane and preserved the northbound lane, the site will continue to be monitored and visually inspected. A project to construct a permanent repair to the highway at this location is currently in the design phase, with an estimated completion date of spring 2025.

Earlier this month, the Governor surveyed the work being done at the Highway 1 slip-out and announced state action by signing an emergency proclamation. This action will help secure an estimated $100 million in federal funding for repairs to multiple areas of the state impacted by the recent storms.