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Two recent landslides near Big Sur isolates community members in rural areas

BIG SUR, Calif. (KION-TV)- Highway 1 has taken two big hits in February with two landslides on top of Paul's Slide have now made 10 miles of Highway 1 impassible.

Caltrans is calling ”intimidating slides,” coastal communities along Highway 1 have limited ways out.

"When I saw the pictures, I was like, oh no, here we go again," said Bree Harlan who lives in Lucia.

The two slides block travel routes from the north and south on Highway 1.

People living in Lucia like Harlan say they feel like they are on an island.

"Several people are going unemployed," said Harlan. "My cousin is down there and he's staying with his wife and they they've just decided they're they need to be there,"

Another issue is finding healthcare which Bree Harlan and her family are trying to navigate in San Luis Obispo.

"I gotta get a doctor down south now, like my dad, he's 72 and he's got he's got kidney stones right now," said Harlan. "So, now he has to figure out how he's going to get that taken care of in a whole nother county, with a whole nother health care system."

The Dolan and Regent slides were caused just a day apart from each other on Feb 8 and 9. It caused about 10 miles of closure which is impacting travel and business from the south.

"Levels of business are down 30% to 35%," said Kirk Gafill, President of the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce. "Visitation levels are down by that amount by the Highway being closed."

Convoys are conducted once a day at 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. when it's safe to do so for people living near the slides.

"The road is narrow as it is, and so many locations on the big sur coast, the the, the coastal mountain is steep, and there's a drop off to the other side," said Kevin Drabinski, Public Information Officer for Caltrans District 5. "Every slide is unique. It has individual challenges,"

Businesses on the other side who have been feeling the impacts for over a year say road-closure signs couldn’t be removed soon enough.

"I know Caltrans has got their hands full District Five and they go from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo." said Harlan. "It's almost like Big Sur needs its own Caltrans district because it is so rugged and steep and problematic in so many ways."

Repair designs for the other two slides will be formulated within the next two weeks according to Caltrans.

Paul's Slide is expected to be repaired and reopen late spring 2024.

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Dania Romero

Dania Romero is an reporter at KION News Channel 46.


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