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News Every Day |

Crews escorting cars around damaged section of Highway 1 near Big Sur after lane collapsed in storm

SAN FRANCISCO — Authorities urged motorists to avoid California’s Highway 1 along the central coast after a section of the scenic route collapsed during an Easter weekend storm, forcing closures and stranding motorists near Big Sur, authorities said.

The collapse occurred amid heavy rain Saturday afternoon near Rocky Creek Bridge about 17 miles (27 kilometers) south of Monterey, sending chunks of asphalt tumbling into the ocean from the southbound side of the two-lane road.

The highway was closed in both directions in the mountainous area of California’s central coast as engineers assessed the damage, said the state Department of Transportation, or Caltrans.

  • This photo provided by Caltrans shows a damaged section of...

    This photo provided by Caltrans shows a damaged section of Highway 1, Sunday, March 31, 2024, south of Rocky Creek Bridge in Big Sur, Calif. Authorities urged motorists to avoid the scenic highway after a section of the coastal route collapsed during an Easter weekend storm, forcing closures and stranding motorists near Big Sur, authorities said. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

  • This photo provided by Caltrans shows a damaged section of...

    This photo provided by Caltrans shows a damaged section of Highway 1, Sunday, March 31, 2024, south of Rocky Creek Bridge in Big Sur, Calif. Authorities urged motorists to avoid the scenic highway after a section of the coastal route collapsed during an Easter weekend storm, forcing closures and stranding motorists near Big Sur, authorities said. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

  • This photo provided by Caltrans shows a damaged section of...

    This photo provided by Caltrans shows a damaged section of Highway 1, Sunday, March 31, 2024, south of Rocky Creek Bridge in Big Sur, Calif. Authorities urged motorists to avoid the scenic highway after a section of the coastal route collapsed during an Easter weekend storm, forcing closures and stranding motorists near Big Sur, authorities said. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

  • CORRECTS ROAD TO STATE HIGHWAY 1 INSTEAD OF U.S. 1...

    CORRECTS ROAD TO STATE HIGHWAY 1 INSTEAD OF U.S. 1 - n this photo posted on social media by Caltrans District 5, the Rocky Creek closure on California Highway 1 is seen, Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Monterey County, Calif., following heavy rain in the area. (Caltrans District 5 via AP)

  • Adwait Bhagwat, of Irvine, stops to photograph a full rainbow...

    Adwait Bhagwat, of Irvine, stops to photograph a full rainbow seen over a meadow near the Interstate 405 freeway in Irvine, Calif., Sunday, March 31, 2024. Bhagwat, an amatuer photographer, said he is always looking to capture "natural phenomena." Next week he plans to travel to Texas to view the eclipse. (Mindy Schauer/The Orange County Register via AP)

  • Brittany Johnson, of Irvine, stops to take a picture of...

    Brittany Johnson, of Irvine, stops to take a picture of a full rainbow after grocery shopping in Irvine, Calif., Sunday, March 31, 2024. (Mindy Schauer/The Orange County Register via AP)

  • Skiers sit in the snow at Big Mountain Resort Saturday,...

    Skiers sit in the snow at Big Mountain Resort Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Big Bear Lake, Calif. (Big Mountain Resort via AP)

  • Snow falls on the Big Mountain Resort property during a...

    Snow falls on the Big Mountain Resort property during a storm, Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Big Bear Lake, Calif. (Big Mountain Resort via AP)

  • Snow falls on snowboarders and skiers on the Big Mountain...

    Snow falls on snowboarders and skiers on the Big Mountain Resort during a storm, Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Big Bear Lake, Calif. (Big Mountain Resort via AP)

  • Snow falls on the Big Mountain Resort property during a...

    Snow falls on the Big Mountain Resort property during a storm, Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Big Bear Lake, Calif. (Big Mountain Resort via AP)

  • Snow falls as skiers wait for a lift on the...

    Snow falls as skiers wait for a lift on the Big Mountain Resort during a storm, Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Big Bear Lake, Calif. (Big Mountain Resort via AP)

  • Snow is cleared on the Big Mountain Resort property during...

    Snow is cleared on the Big Mountain Resort property during a storm, Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Big Bear Lake, Calif. (Big Mountain Resort via AP)

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“We are working on a plan to get motorists evacuated from the area,” the California Highway Patrol said Saturday.

Around noon on Sunday, crews had determined that travel in the northbound lane was safe, and authorities began periodically escorting motorists around the damaged section. About 300 cars were waiting to travel northbound when officials led the first convoy through the area, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Some stranded motorists had slept in their cars overnight while others were sheltered at the nearby Big Sur Lodge, the newspaper said.

Caltrans spokesperson Kevin Drabinski said periodic convoys would continue over the coming days as crews shore up the highway, which had other closures because of rocks and debris in lanes. He urged people to avoid the area.

The famous route has seen frequent closures because of collapses, mud flows and rockslides during severe weather.

The slow-moving storm dumped heavy rain at lower elevations and more than a foot (0.3 meters) of snow at Sierra Nevada ski resorts around Lake Tahoe.

Ryan Kittell, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said the system is typical for March but was not an atmospheric river like many of the other storms that have pounded the state in recent winters.

The storm exited the San Francisco Bay Area on Friday and “just marched right down the California coast,” bringing most of the rainfall to the Los Angeles area, Kittell said.

The storm then parked itself over Southern California, where it was expected to stay until Sunday night or into Monday. Showers and possible thunderstorms, with the potential for lightning and damaging winds, were still possible for parts of Santa Barbara, Ventura and LA counties.

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