Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge Still Standing After Demolition Effort Didn't Work

Mar 13, 2017

The Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge in Big Sur is still standing after efforts to tear it down Monday didn’t work.  A crane wielded a 6000 pound wrecking ball onto the bridge, but it didn’t hit with the desired strength says CalTrans Spokesman Jim Shivers.

“These things are built to last, so it will be a pretty heavy piece of work to try to knock that down,” says Shivers.

Shivers adds demolition work will resume later this week after discussing new strategies with the contractor.

The bridge, which is south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, was damaged beyond repair by a mudslide in recent storms.  It cracked three of the four concrete support columns.  

“So imagine a large mass of mud and rock coming down the slope towards the bridge.  Putting that pressure on the bridge columns causing that to move and to crack and eventually compromise the whole structure,” says Shivers.


CalTrans has already approved plans for a replacement bridge, but it will take 9 months to a year for that to be complete.


The bridge has been closed to car and pedestrian traffic for nearly a month. Residents to the south currently have limited access to Highway 1 southbound and Nacimiento Fergusson Road.   Both which were also damaged by the storms.


Helicopters are the other way in and out.  That’s how Stan Russell with the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce gets to the other side where popular Big Sur destinations are currently out of reach including the Big Sur Bakery, Deetjens, the Henry Miller Library and other popular destinations.


“Kirk (Gaffil) is hanging out at Nepenthe and having dinners with his friends.  Everyone is trying to be optimistic about the opening,” says Russell.  “I spoke with Mike Freed at the Post Ranch Inn, and they’re trying to figure out ways to get their guests in.  And I’m sure Ventana is strategizing how they’re going to be getting guests in as well.”


A hiking trail to get residents around Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge is also under construction.  Russell hopes eventually that will be accessible to tourists.  

The Community Foundation for Monterey County has created a Big Sur Relief Fund.  All donations will go to help affected Big Sur residents and employees of Big Sur businesses.