COUNTY — Debris flowed down the hillside above Rat Creek and Highway 1 on the Big Sur coast, which overwhelmed the drainage infrastructure, then flowed across the highway and eroded the road resulting in the complete loss of a segment of Highway 1.

Rat Creek is located at PM 30.2 and is two miles south of the Esalen Institute. It is about 1 mile south of the origin of the Dolan Fire in the Dolan Canyon area of Big Sur and within the burn scar area.

On Thursday Jan. 28, Caltrans crews, working from the north, performed a post rainstorm assessment of the roadway after discovering debris flow across the highway at Rat Creek. Before nightfall on Thursday, the lane on the coast side of the road had been completely washed out.

Late Thursday evening, Caltrans entered into a $5 million emergency contract with Papich Construction of San Luis Obispo County to assist with repair of the highway slide out.


On Friday Jan. 29, Caltrans assessment crews and emergency contractors arrived at daybreak to discover that both lanes of the highway had washed out.

At this stage the damage assessment team has not issued a report on the current findings and will continue to work on a full assessment. The current closure of Highway 1 from Ragged Point to Fuller’s Point just south of Deetjen’s Big Sur in remains in effect.

Businesses on Highway 1 from Carmel to Big Sur and south to the full closure remain open.

Barricades, cones, as well as message and directional signs are in place at both ends of the closure to alert motorists traveling in the area.

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

For traffic updates on other state highways in Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties, travelers may contact Caltrans District 5 Public Affairs at (805)549-3318 or can visit the District 5 website at