Excavators clear debris and mud at Rat Creek on Feb. 11. Photo courtesy Caltrans
Caltrans continues to assess the washout at Rat Creek on Hwy 1 in Monterey County, as crews clear debris from storm drains and culverts north and south of the massive landslide.
The highway washed out during the big 3-day storm Jan. 27-29, when 10-12 inches of rain fell onto the burn scar of 2020’s Dolan Fire. Rat Creek, at mile marker 30 just south of the Big Creek Bridge, came down in that storm washing out a 150-foot section of roadway and the cliff that held it up.
“Crews continue working at Rat Creek seven days a week as part of the ongoing assessment phase,” Caltrans spokesman Kevin Drabinski said in a news release. “Geotechnical and engineering crews continue to gather data and inspect areas in proximity of the washout and the surrounding canyon. To date, no design alternative has been selected. Given the complexity of the repair there is at present no timeline for when this decision will be made.”
Crews have been clearing more than 60 locations along the highway where debris came down in the storm.
“Work continues unplugging numerous culverts both north and south of Rat Creek, which were overwhelmed by debris flow from the recent rainstorm,” according to Caltrans. “Significantly, all the culverts have been located and their inlets exposed. Additional debris removal from the inlet areas and removal of mud and debris from inside the pipes continues.”
Caltrans’ maintenance crews are working in the open sections of the highway. “Crews continue to work in support of emergency contractors inside the closed sections of highway with guardrail repairs and restoring drainage facilities.”
The highway remains closed at areas north and south of Rat Creek. The southern closure (from the SLO County side) is just north of Pacific Valley, at mile marker 16. That should change soon.
“Given current progress on debris removal and road repairs,” Caltrans said on Feb. 12, “it is anticipated that this southern closure will move north on Monday, Feb. 22, and relocate to the Big Creek Vista Point [at PM 27.3], where a turnaround is being constructed.”
In an update Feb. 18, Caltrans said the move north of Big Creek would be done by Friday, Feb. 19. “This will open up an additional 11 miles of the highway on the south side of Rat Creek,’ Caltrans said.
From the Monterey County side, Caltrans has installed a turnaround just north of the Lime Creek Bridge at PM 32.1. That turnaround will mark the end of the line on Hwy 1 from the north heading south.
“In upcoming weeks,” Caltrans said, “the turnaround will be improved with permanent surfacing and enhanced striping. Work to restore impacted drainage systems on Highway 1 north of Lime Creek will continue using standard traffic control as necessary.”
Essentially, only residents will be allowed past the roadblocks to access their homes.