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California’s Iconic Highway 1 Reopens After 19 Months

California’s Iconic Highway 1 Reopens After 19 Months


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The Carmel, California, poet Robert Jeffers once stated, “The noblest thing I have ever seen is Big Sur,” and we have to agree: Windswept cliffs and towering redwoods hover above the mighty Pacific Ocean. When the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge begun to fail due to heavy winter storms coupled with devastating wild fires a year prior, government officials closed the stretch to begin an intensive eight-month reconstruction, with crews working six or seven days a week. On October 13, 2017, reopening brought much needed traffic back to this postcard-perfect region. As the community and engineering teams worked to reconnect the tourist-driven economy of Big Sur, many found that the seclusion helped to reestablish a sense of identity and purpose as they were forced to use ingenuity and teamwork to survive months of isolation. News of the reopening was a welcome relief for the small town of Big Sur, and as former residents of nearby Monterey, we were anxious to revisit this very special part of the country.

Big Sur is a sparsely populated unincorporated area of Northern California with some of the most incredible coastline in the world. Winding our way along the pulse-quickening narrow stretch of Highway 1 gave us a deep appreciation for all who have worked so tirelessly in re-opening the highway. We looked forward to seeing the iconic landmarks and inns that make up this intriguing area and to see firsthand how residents coped with their island-like existence. Known for gorgeous campgrounds, inspirational hiking trails, and secluded beaches, Big Sur averages a million tourists per year on along this two-lane stretch of highway.

After our awe-inspiring coastal drive, we stop by the Big Sur River Inn and Restaurant, established in 1934 when Ellen Brown opened her home along the Big Sur River to serve meals and a slice of apple pie to travelers. As it was so many years ago, this place embodies Brown’s hospitality with its rustic pine lodge décor, roaring fireplace, and vintage photos of area development. General manager Rick Aldinger informed us that he was relieved be in business once again but also added, “Our forced seclusion did give us time to reevaluate how we were going to do things going forward and helped us to reset and reflect.”

We took our seat near the blazing river-stone fireplace on a damp Halloween afternoon and were ready to try some heartwarming dishes. The winter beet salad proved to be a hearty autumnal dish with rosy beet chunks, delicate slices of juicy pear topped with generous amounts of spicy arugula, pungent goat cheese all tossed with zesty lemon vinaigrette topped with crunchy candied walnuts. BS BLT, classic sliced California sourdough bread with smoked Applewood bacon, locally grown tomatoes, lettuce, and avocado with zingy chipotle aioli, satisfied our hunger pains. The servers were setting tables adorned with freshly cut Jack O’ Lanterns, indicating it was time for Halloween celebrations. Tonight we were here to partake in the Halloween Bal Masque celebration at the legendary Nepenthe restaurant, but first we needed to check into our accommodations at the Glen Oaks Inn.

We had booked one of the inn’s ultra-modern cabins nestled in the Redwood forest. Opened in 1957, Glen Oaks Inn offers contemporary luxury meets Mother Nature, by utilizing organic, recycled, and renewable materials. Turning down a secluded road shrouded by dense forest, we found the Redwood Grove. Inside were Redwood bark-tiled wall coverings, European birch-style furnishings, and an efficient kitchenette painted in bright orange with lime green accents but the outside world beckoned. The fall foliage glittered with vibrant oranges and yellows, and invigorating fresh air filled our lungs. Just as we veered down the leaf-strewn path we came upon the second largest Redwood in Big Sur, just steps from our cabin.

Unpacking our masks and costumes, we anticipated an evening of fun and celebration for this annual event dedicated to fundraising for the Big Sur Volunteer Firefighter Brigade. Eager to get the party started, we donned our masks and drove a short way to the restaurant.

Opened in 1949, Nepenthe has always attracted creatives, vagabonds, and seekers. The word nepenthe is derived from Greek, meaning “no sorrow,” and who could be unhappy here with jaw-dropping views of the Pacific surrounded by the majestic Santa Lucia Mountains? Just below the restaurant, The Phoenix gift shop sells an extensive array of local artisan wares. A cast of Halloween characters came streaming in: a 10-foot jellyfish, scantily clad maidens, and ghostly ghouls. The beat of the DJ’s records put our costumed tribe onto the dance floor while a Balinese snake charmer captivated the crowd with her boa constrictor.


California’s iconic Highway 1 to reopen ahead of schedule after mudslide damage

A scenic portion of California’s Highway 1 will reopen later this month.

In January, a mudslide washed out 150 feet of the highway along the iconic Big Sur Coast. The highway has been closed since then and wasn’t expected to be fully repaired until summer.

However, the project has moved faster than expected. Earlier this week, the California Department of Transportation announced that the closed portion of Highway 1 will reopen on April 30, almost two months ahead of schedule.

According to a tweet, “favorable weather & soil conditions” allowed crews to move faster than expected.

“Reopening Highway 1 at Rat Creek just three months after a washout of this magnitude is great news for residents, recreationalists, business owners, and those who move goods through this region,” Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin said in a statement. “Caltrans has been focused on the emergency work needed to increase the resiliency of this highway section to extreme weather, and the fixes made will allow for safe travel.”

Caltrans construction crews repair a section of Highway 1, along Big Sur, California, in March. The portion of the road was washed away during a winter storm in January. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins said: “Our crews have worked to create a safe road in challenging conditions, and we are excited to reopen this lifeline earlier than expected.”

According to the announcement, crews have been working “seven days a week during daylight hours” since March 1 to fill in the washed-out canyon with compacted dirt.

The highway is expected to reopen by April 30, nearly two months ahead of schedule. A portion of Highway 1 that was washed away in January is pictured. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

The next step is to “establish the base of a new road” over the next two weeks, the announcement said. Crew members will then pave and stripe the road.

“Caltrans will continue construction work that will require intermittent traffic control at Rat Creek following the reopening as crews will install a new, redundant drainage system,” the announcement said. “The 10-foot diameter culvert will improve water flow during storms and make the roadway more resilient to extreme weather activity.”

The agency also plans to install guardrails in the summer — though that can be done once the highway has been reopened.


California’s iconic Highway 1 to reopen ahead of schedule after mudslide damage

A scenic portion of California’s Highway 1 will reopen later this month.

In January, a mudslide washed out 150 feet of the highway along the iconic Big Sur Coast. The highway has been closed since then and wasn’t expected to be fully repaired until summer.

However, the project has moved faster than expected. Earlier this week, the California Department of Transportation announced that the closed portion of Highway 1 will reopen on April 30, almost two months ahead of schedule.

According to a tweet, “favorable weather & soil conditions” allowed crews to move faster than expected.

“Reopening Highway 1 at Rat Creek just three months after a washout of this magnitude is great news for residents, recreationalists, business owners, and those who move goods through this region,” Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin said in a statement. “Caltrans has been focused on the emergency work needed to increase the resiliency of this highway section to extreme weather, and the fixes made will allow for safe travel.”

Caltrans construction crews repair a section of Highway 1, along Big Sur, California, in March. The portion of the road was washed away during a winter storm in January. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins said: “Our crews have worked to create a safe road in challenging conditions, and we are excited to reopen this lifeline earlier than expected.”

According to the announcement, crews have been working “seven days a week during daylight hours” since March 1 to fill in the washed-out canyon with compacted dirt.

The highway is expected to reopen by April 30, nearly two months ahead of schedule. A portion of Highway 1 that was washed away in January is pictured. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

The next step is to “establish the base of a new road” over the next two weeks, the announcement said. Crew members will then pave and stripe the road.

“Caltrans will continue construction work that will require intermittent traffic control at Rat Creek following the reopening as crews will install a new, redundant drainage system,” the announcement said. “The 10-foot diameter culvert will improve water flow during storms and make the roadway more resilient to extreme weather activity.”

The agency also plans to install guardrails in the summer — though that can be done once the highway has been reopened.


California’s iconic Highway 1 to reopen ahead of schedule after mudslide damage

A scenic portion of California’s Highway 1 will reopen later this month.

In January, a mudslide washed out 150 feet of the highway along the iconic Big Sur Coast. The highway has been closed since then and wasn’t expected to be fully repaired until summer.

However, the project has moved faster than expected. Earlier this week, the California Department of Transportation announced that the closed portion of Highway 1 will reopen on April 30, almost two months ahead of schedule.

According to a tweet, “favorable weather & soil conditions” allowed crews to move faster than expected.

“Reopening Highway 1 at Rat Creek just three months after a washout of this magnitude is great news for residents, recreationalists, business owners, and those who move goods through this region,” Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin said in a statement. “Caltrans has been focused on the emergency work needed to increase the resiliency of this highway section to extreme weather, and the fixes made will allow for safe travel.”

Caltrans construction crews repair a section of Highway 1, along Big Sur, California, in March. The portion of the road was washed away during a winter storm in January. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins said: “Our crews have worked to create a safe road in challenging conditions, and we are excited to reopen this lifeline earlier than expected.”

According to the announcement, crews have been working “seven days a week during daylight hours” since March 1 to fill in the washed-out canyon with compacted dirt.

The highway is expected to reopen by April 30, nearly two months ahead of schedule. A portion of Highway 1 that was washed away in January is pictured. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

The next step is to “establish the base of a new road” over the next two weeks, the announcement said. Crew members will then pave and stripe the road.

“Caltrans will continue construction work that will require intermittent traffic control at Rat Creek following the reopening as crews will install a new, redundant drainage system,” the announcement said. “The 10-foot diameter culvert will improve water flow during storms and make the roadway more resilient to extreme weather activity.”

The agency also plans to install guardrails in the summer — though that can be done once the highway has been reopened.


California’s iconic Highway 1 to reopen ahead of schedule after mudslide damage

A scenic portion of California’s Highway 1 will reopen later this month.

In January, a mudslide washed out 150 feet of the highway along the iconic Big Sur Coast. The highway has been closed since then and wasn’t expected to be fully repaired until summer.

However, the project has moved faster than expected. Earlier this week, the California Department of Transportation announced that the closed portion of Highway 1 will reopen on April 30, almost two months ahead of schedule.

According to a tweet, “favorable weather & soil conditions” allowed crews to move faster than expected.

“Reopening Highway 1 at Rat Creek just three months after a washout of this magnitude is great news for residents, recreationalists, business owners, and those who move goods through this region,” Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin said in a statement. “Caltrans has been focused on the emergency work needed to increase the resiliency of this highway section to extreme weather, and the fixes made will allow for safe travel.”

Caltrans construction crews repair a section of Highway 1, along Big Sur, California, in March. The portion of the road was washed away during a winter storm in January. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins said: “Our crews have worked to create a safe road in challenging conditions, and we are excited to reopen this lifeline earlier than expected.”

According to the announcement, crews have been working “seven days a week during daylight hours” since March 1 to fill in the washed-out canyon with compacted dirt.

The highway is expected to reopen by April 30, nearly two months ahead of schedule. A portion of Highway 1 that was washed away in January is pictured. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

The next step is to “establish the base of a new road” over the next two weeks, the announcement said. Crew members will then pave and stripe the road.

“Caltrans will continue construction work that will require intermittent traffic control at Rat Creek following the reopening as crews will install a new, redundant drainage system,” the announcement said. “The 10-foot diameter culvert will improve water flow during storms and make the roadway more resilient to extreme weather activity.”

The agency also plans to install guardrails in the summer — though that can be done once the highway has been reopened.


California’s iconic Highway 1 to reopen ahead of schedule after mudslide damage

A scenic portion of California’s Highway 1 will reopen later this month.

In January, a mudslide washed out 150 feet of the highway along the iconic Big Sur Coast. The highway has been closed since then and wasn’t expected to be fully repaired until summer.

However, the project has moved faster than expected. Earlier this week, the California Department of Transportation announced that the closed portion of Highway 1 will reopen on April 30, almost two months ahead of schedule.

According to a tweet, “favorable weather & soil conditions” allowed crews to move faster than expected.

“Reopening Highway 1 at Rat Creek just three months after a washout of this magnitude is great news for residents, recreationalists, business owners, and those who move goods through this region,” Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin said in a statement. “Caltrans has been focused on the emergency work needed to increase the resiliency of this highway section to extreme weather, and the fixes made will allow for safe travel.”

Caltrans construction crews repair a section of Highway 1, along Big Sur, California, in March. The portion of the road was washed away during a winter storm in January. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins said: “Our crews have worked to create a safe road in challenging conditions, and we are excited to reopen this lifeline earlier than expected.”

According to the announcement, crews have been working “seven days a week during daylight hours” since March 1 to fill in the washed-out canyon with compacted dirt.

The highway is expected to reopen by April 30, nearly two months ahead of schedule. A portion of Highway 1 that was washed away in January is pictured. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

The next step is to “establish the base of a new road” over the next two weeks, the announcement said. Crew members will then pave and stripe the road.

“Caltrans will continue construction work that will require intermittent traffic control at Rat Creek following the reopening as crews will install a new, redundant drainage system,” the announcement said. “The 10-foot diameter culvert will improve water flow during storms and make the roadway more resilient to extreme weather activity.”

The agency also plans to install guardrails in the summer — though that can be done once the highway has been reopened.


California’s iconic Highway 1 to reopen ahead of schedule after mudslide damage

A scenic portion of California’s Highway 1 will reopen later this month.

In January, a mudslide washed out 150 feet of the highway along the iconic Big Sur Coast. The highway has been closed since then and wasn’t expected to be fully repaired until summer.

However, the project has moved faster than expected. Earlier this week, the California Department of Transportation announced that the closed portion of Highway 1 will reopen on April 30, almost two months ahead of schedule.

According to a tweet, “favorable weather & soil conditions” allowed crews to move faster than expected.

“Reopening Highway 1 at Rat Creek just three months after a washout of this magnitude is great news for residents, recreationalists, business owners, and those who move goods through this region,” Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin said in a statement. “Caltrans has been focused on the emergency work needed to increase the resiliency of this highway section to extreme weather, and the fixes made will allow for safe travel.”

Caltrans construction crews repair a section of Highway 1, along Big Sur, California, in March. The portion of the road was washed away during a winter storm in January. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins said: “Our crews have worked to create a safe road in challenging conditions, and we are excited to reopen this lifeline earlier than expected.”

According to the announcement, crews have been working “seven days a week during daylight hours” since March 1 to fill in the washed-out canyon with compacted dirt.

The highway is expected to reopen by April 30, nearly two months ahead of schedule. A portion of Highway 1 that was washed away in January is pictured. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

The next step is to “establish the base of a new road” over the next two weeks, the announcement said. Crew members will then pave and stripe the road.

“Caltrans will continue construction work that will require intermittent traffic control at Rat Creek following the reopening as crews will install a new, redundant drainage system,” the announcement said. “The 10-foot diameter culvert will improve water flow during storms and make the roadway more resilient to extreme weather activity.”

The agency also plans to install guardrails in the summer — though that can be done once the highway has been reopened.


California’s iconic Highway 1 to reopen ahead of schedule after mudslide damage

A scenic portion of California’s Highway 1 will reopen later this month.

In January, a mudslide washed out 150 feet of the highway along the iconic Big Sur Coast. The highway has been closed since then and wasn’t expected to be fully repaired until summer.

However, the project has moved faster than expected. Earlier this week, the California Department of Transportation announced that the closed portion of Highway 1 will reopen on April 30, almost two months ahead of schedule.

According to a tweet, “favorable weather & soil conditions” allowed crews to move faster than expected.

“Reopening Highway 1 at Rat Creek just three months after a washout of this magnitude is great news for residents, recreationalists, business owners, and those who move goods through this region,” Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin said in a statement. “Caltrans has been focused on the emergency work needed to increase the resiliency of this highway section to extreme weather, and the fixes made will allow for safe travel.”

Caltrans construction crews repair a section of Highway 1, along Big Sur, California, in March. The portion of the road was washed away during a winter storm in January. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins said: “Our crews have worked to create a safe road in challenging conditions, and we are excited to reopen this lifeline earlier than expected.”

According to the announcement, crews have been working “seven days a week during daylight hours” since March 1 to fill in the washed-out canyon with compacted dirt.

The highway is expected to reopen by April 30, nearly two months ahead of schedule. A portion of Highway 1 that was washed away in January is pictured. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

The next step is to “establish the base of a new road” over the next two weeks, the announcement said. Crew members will then pave and stripe the road.

“Caltrans will continue construction work that will require intermittent traffic control at Rat Creek following the reopening as crews will install a new, redundant drainage system,” the announcement said. “The 10-foot diameter culvert will improve water flow during storms and make the roadway more resilient to extreme weather activity.”

The agency also plans to install guardrails in the summer — though that can be done once the highway has been reopened.


California’s iconic Highway 1 to reopen ahead of schedule after mudslide damage

A scenic portion of California’s Highway 1 will reopen later this month.

In January, a mudslide washed out 150 feet of the highway along the iconic Big Sur Coast. The highway has been closed since then and wasn’t expected to be fully repaired until summer.

However, the project has moved faster than expected. Earlier this week, the California Department of Transportation announced that the closed portion of Highway 1 will reopen on April 30, almost two months ahead of schedule.

According to a tweet, “favorable weather & soil conditions” allowed crews to move faster than expected.

“Reopening Highway 1 at Rat Creek just three months after a washout of this magnitude is great news for residents, recreationalists, business owners, and those who move goods through this region,” Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin said in a statement. “Caltrans has been focused on the emergency work needed to increase the resiliency of this highway section to extreme weather, and the fixes made will allow for safe travel.”

Caltrans construction crews repair a section of Highway 1, along Big Sur, California, in March. The portion of the road was washed away during a winter storm in January. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins said: “Our crews have worked to create a safe road in challenging conditions, and we are excited to reopen this lifeline earlier than expected.”

According to the announcement, crews have been working “seven days a week during daylight hours” since March 1 to fill in the washed-out canyon with compacted dirt.

The highway is expected to reopen by April 30, nearly two months ahead of schedule. A portion of Highway 1 that was washed away in January is pictured. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

The next step is to “establish the base of a new road” over the next two weeks, the announcement said. Crew members will then pave and stripe the road.

“Caltrans will continue construction work that will require intermittent traffic control at Rat Creek following the reopening as crews will install a new, redundant drainage system,” the announcement said. “The 10-foot diameter culvert will improve water flow during storms and make the roadway more resilient to extreme weather activity.”

The agency also plans to install guardrails in the summer — though that can be done once the highway has been reopened.


California’s iconic Highway 1 to reopen ahead of schedule after mudslide damage

A scenic portion of California’s Highway 1 will reopen later this month.

In January, a mudslide washed out 150 feet of the highway along the iconic Big Sur Coast. The highway has been closed since then and wasn’t expected to be fully repaired until summer.

However, the project has moved faster than expected. Earlier this week, the California Department of Transportation announced that the closed portion of Highway 1 will reopen on April 30, almost two months ahead of schedule.

According to a tweet, “favorable weather & soil conditions” allowed crews to move faster than expected.

“Reopening Highway 1 at Rat Creek just three months after a washout of this magnitude is great news for residents, recreationalists, business owners, and those who move goods through this region,” Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin said in a statement. “Caltrans has been focused on the emergency work needed to increase the resiliency of this highway section to extreme weather, and the fixes made will allow for safe travel.”

Caltrans construction crews repair a section of Highway 1, along Big Sur, California, in March. The portion of the road was washed away during a winter storm in January. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins said: “Our crews have worked to create a safe road in challenging conditions, and we are excited to reopen this lifeline earlier than expected.”

According to the announcement, crews have been working “seven days a week during daylight hours” since March 1 to fill in the washed-out canyon with compacted dirt.

The highway is expected to reopen by April 30, nearly two months ahead of schedule. A portion of Highway 1 that was washed away in January is pictured. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

The next step is to “establish the base of a new road” over the next two weeks, the announcement said. Crew members will then pave and stripe the road.

“Caltrans will continue construction work that will require intermittent traffic control at Rat Creek following the reopening as crews will install a new, redundant drainage system,” the announcement said. “The 10-foot diameter culvert will improve water flow during storms and make the roadway more resilient to extreme weather activity.”

The agency also plans to install guardrails in the summer — though that can be done once the highway has been reopened.


California’s iconic Highway 1 to reopen ahead of schedule after mudslide damage

A scenic portion of California’s Highway 1 will reopen later this month.

In January, a mudslide washed out 150 feet of the highway along the iconic Big Sur Coast. The highway has been closed since then and wasn’t expected to be fully repaired until summer.

However, the project has moved faster than expected. Earlier this week, the California Department of Transportation announced that the closed portion of Highway 1 will reopen on April 30, almost two months ahead of schedule.

According to a tweet, “favorable weather & soil conditions” allowed crews to move faster than expected.

“Reopening Highway 1 at Rat Creek just three months after a washout of this magnitude is great news for residents, recreationalists, business owners, and those who move goods through this region,” Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin said in a statement. “Caltrans has been focused on the emergency work needed to increase the resiliency of this highway section to extreme weather, and the fixes made will allow for safe travel.”

Caltrans construction crews repair a section of Highway 1, along Big Sur, California, in March. The portion of the road was washed away during a winter storm in January. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins said: “Our crews have worked to create a safe road in challenging conditions, and we are excited to reopen this lifeline earlier than expected.”

According to the announcement, crews have been working “seven days a week during daylight hours” since March 1 to fill in the washed-out canyon with compacted dirt.

The highway is expected to reopen by April 30, nearly two months ahead of schedule. A portion of Highway 1 that was washed away in January is pictured. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

The next step is to “establish the base of a new road” over the next two weeks, the announcement said. Crew members will then pave and stripe the road.

“Caltrans will continue construction work that will require intermittent traffic control at Rat Creek following the reopening as crews will install a new, redundant drainage system,” the announcement said. “The 10-foot diameter culvert will improve water flow during storms and make the roadway more resilient to extreme weather activity.”

The agency also plans to install guardrails in the summer — though that can be done once the highway has been reopened.



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