The wait is over for hundreds of people who have been trapped behind a road washout near Lake Nacimiento.
Crews have finished building a temporary access road around the washout on Chimney Rock Road, meaning that people who were cut off from the outside world for weeks can drive to town again.
It’s a testament to the difference that just a few weeks of work can make.
In early April, crews were lifting giant boulders into the washout.
Three weeks later, the temporary access road is finished, allowing residents to travel freely in and out of the area.
“They have access. They can get to work and get services, and services are going in,” said SLO County Public Works Spokesperson Paula McCambridge.
“We’re happy. They did a good job on the temporary road. Now, they’re gonna build some sort of bridge,” said Mike Linkiewicz, who lives behind the washout zone.
Driving to and from Paso Robles feels normal again for hundreds of people who were impacted.
“When it’s your home, that’s your world,” said McCambridge.
For weeks, the only way out was taking a boat across Lake Nacimiento or rafting across the washout.
That is no longer the case as of this week.
“This has been a big deal to those residents. They’ve been patient. They’ve shared their concerns and desires and that’s what we’re here to hear so, it’s a happy day,” said McCambridge.
Some people were out of their homes for so long that the seasons have now changed.
“I wish we were back here during the cooler weather. It’s ok,” said Linkiewicz.
Heavy equipment is still being used and residents are being guided through the construction zone along the one-lane road during the day.
“You look at the size of the equipment and I just give them right-of-way,” added Linkiewicz.
Access has been restored, but the work is far from over as residents get a first look at the damage to private roads further in.
“The roads past here are really badly rutted and damaged from the weather,” explained Mike.
The foundation is already being laid for the next phase of work, which involves building a temporary bridge over the washout.
That bridge is expected to be completed sometime in May.
It’s important to note that the access road is only open for people who live in the area.
A few hundred people live behind the washout.
More than 100 residents were considered trapped because they don’t have boats that they can take across Lake Nacimiento to Heritage Ranch.