California's Iconic Highway 1 Near Big Sur Reopens

Highway 1 was blocked by a massive landslide in May 2017 that moved millions of tons of earth

California's iconic Highway 1 near Big Sur has reopened 14 months after it was blocked by a massive landslide.

The California Department of Transportation announced the Wednesday reopening but warned there may be one-way traffic at times because of ongoing construction.

"We were driving and we came to the road closed and we were like 'oh my gosh' of course this happens to us," said visitor Tabithah Darden.

A long line of vehicles went through the traffic for the first time but it was not all bad news for everyone. For Gorda Springs Resort owner Leonardo Vargas, it was a welcome sight after his business suffered from the closure.

"In the beginning, business went down about 25 percent, for eight months, go to 50 percent," he said. "I'm Inviting people to come see this beautiful place.”

Caltrans said it will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday at the nearby Ragged Point Inn. 

The department posted a photograph on Twitter showing the newly built, two-lane road and saying the road is "open for business."

A quarter-mile of Highway 1 at a spot called Mud Creek was buried in May 2017 when more than 1 million tons of rock and earth slipped down a slope saturated by winter storms.

The debris slid well out into the ocean, creating 15 acres (6 hectares) of new coastline about 9 miles (14.5 kilometers).

Caltrans spent a total of $54 million to clean and realign the coastline that was buried by 5 million cubic yards of material.

The company said it made repairs and took measures to try to prevent future disasters.

"It's very gratifying and we understand a lot of people on the north and south sides of the slide, it has really impacted their lives this past year and a half," said Caltrans project manager Joe Erwin.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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