California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) teams have discovered a massive chunk of California’s Highway 1 that collapsed into the Pacific Ocean on Friday, January 29 due to heavy rain. The heavy rain caused a ‘debris flow’ consisting of trees, water, mud, and boulders. Thankfully no one was reported to be injured since the highway had been closed since Tuesday because of potential threat of rockslides and other possible disasters due to heavy rain. The damage assessment team are still investigating and are unsure how long the repairment will take and the road is closed in the meantime.
A department spokesman Kevin Drabinski states how it is no surprise that this event has occured. He continues,
“This road is prone to rock fall and slides, and this is just the nature of the highway,” said Kevin Drabinski, a department spokesman. “We built a road on the edge of a continent, and we have the forces of the hillside and the ocean always at play.”From the New York Times article, “Part of Highway 1 in California Falls Into the Ocean”
For now, drivers have access to use U.S. 101, a highway that goes inland 25miles, but can increase your travel time by a lot. For example, according to the New York Times article, “Part of Highway 1 in California Falls Into the Ocean,” a 46 mile route could potentially turn into a 230 mile route.
A similar disaster occurred back in May 2017 after a mudslide caused a part of Highway 1 slid down. Fortunately, it was able to be rebuilt and reopened on July 2018. This shows how it is not a particularly rare occurrence even though it is most definitely not common.
“California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency for Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties in response to winter storms that “threatened to cause mud and debris flows,” forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents, according to the declaration.”From the CNN article, “A huge piece of California’s Highway 1 near Big Sur collapsed into the ocean”
It has been reported that at least 25 structures and buildings have been damaged in Northern California due to mudslides and excessive debris falling. This is usually found in places that have burn scars from earlier wildfires. For example, the collapse of the stretch of road on Friday was near the burn scar left behind from the Dolan Fire.