Emergency crews are scrambling to clean up a 150-ft-wide collapsed coastal section of Highway 1 in Monterey County, Calif. with no certain timeline for reopening.

Four years after a massive landslide dumped 5 million cu yd of dirt on Highway 1, closing the vital artery for 14 months, a storm opened up a 150-ft-wide cavity in Monterey County over the weekend of Jan. 30. Rat Creek in the Big Sur area, scarred by the Dolan Fire from last summer, was inundated with water debris, mud and trees and washed out a section of the road. 

Although the washout at Rat Creek was the most apparent and significant devastation, it was not the only location on Highway 1 along the Big Sur coast to suffer damage, according to California Dept. of Transportation spokesperson Jim Shivers. 

Caltrans and crews are working north and south of Rat Creek on Highway 1 to clear multiple debris piles, remove slides, remove accumulations of water, clear and repair drainage systems, and stabilize damaged sections of roadway. 

The debris cleanup contractors, including primary contractor Papich Construction, Grover Beach, Calif., hold annual contracts, but Caltrans does not yet have a set date for a Request for Proposals for the road reconstruction work, says Shivers. 

At Rat Creek, engineering alternatives are being analyzed and data is being gathered with no timeline available for complete reopening at this time.

Shivers said that each event is unique and engineers with have to design a plan to repair this specific roadway. No alternate route is being considered due to the terrain. 

Caltrans is continuing to monitor potential further impacts of new storms are scheduled to come through the area this week.