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Big Sur convoys will end on Memorial Day, replaced by traffic signal

A line of cars hugs the northbound lane of Highway 1, separated from the southbound lane by a line of orange traffic cones. Caltrans crews stand in the southbound lane, which has a chunk missing, and observe.
Caltrans District 5 Facebook
A convoy passing through the Highway 1 slip out area on April 1.

Monterey County announced two convoy updates on Friday: The suspension of the twice-daily Big Sur convoys on Saturday, April 13, could be extended to Sunday, and the end of the convoys are in sight.

Caltrans said it aims to construct a traffic signal and finish temporary edge stabilization by May 27, or Memorial Day, to allow unrestricted access through the Big Sur area near Rocky Creek Bridge.

After part of Highway 1 near the bridge crumbled into the ocean March 30, the convoys — intended for local residents and essential workers — have served as the only way in or out of the region.

“We know how important Highway 1 is to the regional economy, especially during the summer, so we are working to reopen the roadway as quickly and safely as possible while at the same time making it more resilient to future extreme weather events,” said Caltrans director Tony Tavares in a press release sent out Friday.

The convoy schedule was shifted earlier this week to 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. convoys, instead of the original 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. schedule, after input from community members.

Per California Highway Patrol, around 500 to 600 vehicles travel through the convoy checkpoint daily.

Caltrans engineers continue to work on stabilizing the slip out site. During a Monterey County press briefing, Zeke Dellmas from Caltrans said there are two parallel tracks of repair: edge stabilization and permanent repairs.

“It’s a little too early to tell what the impacts will be going forward and what the timeline looks like for that ultimate structural repair,” Dellmas said.

Initial Caltrans emergency response was handled through a $1 million temporary contract, he added. Temporary edge stabilization is projected to cost somewhere in the ballpark of $8 million, and those efforts combined with a permanent repair may cost $25 million total.

Wind and rain could impact the progress of those repair efforts.

So far, according to Friday’s press release, Caltrans crews have “widened and improved drainage in the northbound shoulder area, placed concrete barriers along the centerline to channelize convoy passage, and hired a contractor to drill, install, and grout vertical rock dowels through the southbound lane pavement adjacent to the existing west edge of the roadway.”

Updates on convoy status this weekend will be sent out through Monterey County emergency alerts and Caltrans District 5 social media accounts. The transportation agency is at X/Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Janelle Salanga is a reporter for KAZU. Prior to joining the station, they covered Sacramento communities and helped start the SacramenKnow newsletter at CapRadio.
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