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Crews working to remove rocks, dirt at site of Hwy 1 rockslide in San Luis Obispo County

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Posted at 5:29 PM, Dec 29, 2021

A roughly 10-mile stretch of Highway 1 remains closed due to a rockslide a couple of miles south of Ragged Point in San Luis Obispo County.

The popular road is traveled by millions of people each year from all over the world.

"We are heading to San Francisco and now we are stuck in here," said Fabio Queiroz of Brazil.

If you're planning on taking the coastal highway into Big Sur, you'll be met with a road closure sign at the elephant seal viewing area in San Simeon.

There are also a couple of signs warning of the closure miles before that.

"Now we're looking for plans to an alternative route," Queiroz explained.

"Things happen. The nature, you cannot prevent it," added Davi Queiroz of Brazil.

Taking Highway 46 to Highway 101 is the best bet for a detour.

Highway 1 closed on Sunday afternoon following a rockslide at a spot called Polar Star.

"This specific location has had its usual debris and small rockfall," said Kevin Drabinski, Caltrans District 5 Public Information Officer. "Nothing like this large boulder that we've identified way up on the hillside that's been undermined and we're trying to assess the best way to safely remove that."

An estimated 300 tons of rock and debris have since been removed from the site and it's still falling.

On Wednesday, a truck was filled to the top with more rock.

On Thursday, rock scaling is expected to get underway.

"Where we'll have women and men that are trained rappel down the side and clear off loose debris that they can identify so that our workers and contractors can get in and safely assess and develop a plan to remove that large massive rock material that's kind of hanging up there above the roadway," Drabinski said.

Caltrans has entered into a $1,250,000 emergency contract with Souza Construction of San Luis Obispo to get the work done.

"It's a little inconvenience but it's worth it," Fabio said. "The scenery is beautiful. I mean America, I love this country, so it's just a little inconvenience."

Caltrans says at this point, there is no estimated time when the highway will reopen.

All of Big Sur and Ragged Point are still accessible from the north. All of Cambria and San Simeon remain open by taking Highway 1.