A record wet winter set the stage for dramatic closures along Highway 1 this spring, the demolition of Pfieffer Canyon Bridge and the Mud Creek Slide changed the way that residents and visitors get around the coast forever. On Friday, Caltrans celebrated the completion of the State Route 1 Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge project, just seven months after the bridge was destroyed by harsh winter storms.
“We’re very excited to bring vital highway access back to locals and visitors only seven months after the former bridge was demolished,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. ‘It’s a project that would normally take several years to complete.”
This bridge was an Accelerated Bridge Construction project, new to California and the Big Sur Community. Dozens of bridge workers worked extended hours, mostly 6-7 days a week since the end of March to complete the bridge.
The signature feature of the new structure is 15 steel girders fabricated in Vallejo weighing 62 tons each that span the rugged, 315-foot canyon. Its design has no support columns, eliminating structural vulnerability from future slide activity. The new bridge has 12-foot lanes and 5-foot outside shoulders making it accessible for all travelers.
The slide at Pfeiffer Canyon was one of three major landslides that impacted State Route 1 in Monterey County due to record rainfall this past winter. Paul’s Slide, located 24 miles south of Pfeiffer Canyon, remains active with public access provided by a temporary traffic signal.
California’s coastline was permanently altered in May when the massive Mud Creek slide covered Highway 1 with more than 5 million cubic yards of material. The landslide occurred on May 20, dumping more than 5 million cubic yards of material onto the roadway and into the ocean, making it the largest slide ever along the Big Sur coast.
Caltrans recently released its strategy to expedite the rebuilding and reopening of Highway 1 at Mud Creek, traversing over the site of the slide. The new roadway will be realigned across the landslide and will be buttressed with a series of embankments, berms, rocks, netting, culverts and other stabilizing material. This strategy will allow Caltrans to rebuild the roadway more quickly and at a lower cost than other alternatives such as structures, a tunnel or major earthwork that places additional fill into the ocean. The realignment project there has begun with completion of a rebuilt roadway expected by late summer 2018.