Highway 1 at Rat Creek Reopened to Traffic at Noon on April 23


Caltrans completes major construction two months ahead of schedule

District: 05 – Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties
Contact: Kevin Drabinski or Jim Shivers
Phone: (805) 549-3138 or (805) 549-3237

MONTEREY COUNTY ― Caltrans today announced Highway 1 at Rat Creek in Monterey County is open to traffic ― nearly two months ahead of its target date and a week ahead of the date announced earlier this month. A full closure has been in place following the January 28 mudslide that washed out 150 feet of the roadway.

Crews began working seven days a week at the site immediately after the January 28 washout, accelerating Caltrans’ estimated early summer reopening timetable when it began major emergency repairs March 1. Favorable weather conditions in the area aided in the completion of major construction in only 86 days.

“There are few, if any, more iconic routes than Highway 1 – not just in California but anywhere in the world. What this road means to the local economy, to the people of this region and to all Californians is invaluable,” said Governor Gavin Newsom, who attended the reopening today in Big Sur. “As we rebuild, we do so with the knowledge that the conditions that washed out this section of roadway will become more common in the future. We must fortify our infrastructure with climate resiliency in mind.”

Caltrans phased construction to allow for the rapid reopening even as it completes remaining tasks during the next few months, including tunneling to install the primary drainage culvert that will pass from the canyon, through the roadway and out into the ocean. An inch thick and 10 feet in diameter, this steel pipe will substantially improve water flow capacity during future storms. Caltrans already has installed three culverts closer to the highway grade for a drainage system designed to make the highway more resilient to extreme weather conditions. View aerial video of work at the project site.

“We’re pleased to announce the accelerated opening of Highway 1 at Rat Creek, and that residents, business owners, recreationalists and those who deliver goods can safely travel on this repaired stretch of highway. While our emergency work continues to increase the resiliency of this highway to severe weather, Highway 1 is now reconnected and ready for use.”

-Toks Omishakin, Caltrans Director

Caltrans also still needs to install permanent guardrail in place of the temporary K-rail, finalize grading features and place erosion control measures on both sides of the roadway. The remaining construction work may require intermittent traffic control with delays of up to 10 minutes. Message and directional signs will alert motorists of traffic control.

Caltrans reconnected the roadway by filling the canyon with 45,000 cubic yards and constructing a new road on top of it. Caltrans estimates the total cost of the repair project and storm damage cleanup is $11.5 million. The project contractor is Papich Construction of Arroyo Grande.

Caltrans reminds motorists to move over and slow down when driving through highway work zones.

For traffic updates on other state highways in Monterey County, travelers may contact Caltrans District 5 Public Affairs at 805-549-3318 or can visit the District 5 website.

Photo Gallery - California Highway 1 at Rat Creek in Monterey County