Starting Wednesday morning, you can drive all the way through Big Sur on Highway 1. A portion of the road has been closed for more than a year. A massive landslide wiped it out.
Rick Aldinger couldn’t be happier to hear the news. He’s General Manager of the Big Sur River Inn on Highway 1.
“Yeah, that’s one way to put it. We've been painstakingly anticipating the opening of the highway,” says Aldinger.
Big Sur hasn’t been completely cut off, but business has been sporadic. That’s because a big draw is the scenic drive along Highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It’s something drivers haven’t been able to complete for well over a year.
In early 2017, a massive landslide blocked the road north of Hearst Castle at Mud Creek. The slide dumped 6 million cubic yards of dirt and debris on the highway, adding roughly 15 acres of land to the coast. Caltrans built a new quarter-mile stretch of highway on top of the landslide.
Caltrans Spokesperson Susana Cruz says it’s set to re-open Wednesday, July 18 at 10am. That’s two months ahead of the original schedule.
“We’re just really happy that there’s still part of summer left because the original plan was mid-September and [with] everybody back in school, things back to normal kind of, tourism would have been not as good. So that, we're very happy about that,” Cruz says.
The Big Sur River Inn’s Rick Aldinger says he’s looking forward to a steady flow of guests.
“I would like to think that by noon we'll be back up to normal levels of business. But I really don't expect that to happen,” Aldinger says.
This new stretch of Highway 1 cost $54-million. Caltrans has some more work to do. So drivers should expect one-way traffic control at times.