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BREAKING: Convoys resume operation at Rocky Creek Bridge in Big Sur, while businesses remain in limbo

Convoys passing through northbound Highway 1 at the slip out south of the Rocky Creek Bridge in Big Sur on March 31, 2024.
Caltrans District 5 Facebook
Convoys passing through northbound Highway 1 at the slip out south of the Rocky Creek Bridge in Big Sur on March 31, 2024.

Convoys in and out of Big Sur resumed near the Rocky Creek Bridge Saturday morning after a two-day hiatus due to rain. Caltrans plans to run the convoys twice daily, at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, the repair timeline for the segment of southbound Highway 1 that collapsed into the ocean on March 30 remains unclear.

With all Big Sur state parks closed and tourists unable to visit, local residents, businesses and employees are bracing for an uncertain summer.

"Unfortunately, the convoys, while they provide access for essential employees and supplies, do not provide for economic relief for businesses," said Kirk Gafill, Big Sur Chamber of Commerce president and general manager of restaurant Nepenthe, during a Monterey County news briefing on April 3.

Gafill urged officials to open a lane of traffic to visitors as soon as possible to ease the closure's economic burden on local businesses.

"Probably 75-80% of our workforce is going to be on very reduced, if not eliminated, hours," Gafill said during the news briefing. "And the economic damages are likely to be in excess of $1 million a day with each and every day that this closure continues."

When this road slip out happened, Nepenthe employee Bree Harlan had just ordered a lot of food in preparation for a busy Easter weekend. Suddenly, with Big Sur closed to visitors, the restaurant had to scramble to figure out what to do with it.

"I think I kind of froze," Harlan said. "I think I reached my max capacity of stress that I was capable of handling."

For Harlan, this latest road closure is one more inconvenience in a long line of hurdles. A different closure earlier in the year bumped her 25-minute commute up to 4.5 hours.

She says Nepenthe and other businesses in Big Sur do what they can to help employees when emergency strikes. But with frequent slip outs on Highway 1, tourism-dependent Big Sur is becoming a precarious place to live and work.

Road information and updates can also be found on the Caltrans District 5 social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

You can view highway conditions at the Caltrans QuickMap (also visible on the Caltrans app) or call 1-800-427-7623 for road information.

Sign up for Monterey County emergency alerts via the county’s website.

Elena Neale-Sacks is a freelance reporter and producer at KAZU. Prior to joining the station, they worked as a podcast producer at The Oregonian. Elena is an alum of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.