California highway collapse

Tuesday’s most popular search phrase for people landing here at Cyclelicious has been ‘California Highway Collapse.’

California highways and roads are collapsing as local agencies are unable to fund upkeep, but I think most people visiting here are looking for information on this San Pedro road slide in Los Angeles County. What they find instead: this old news about the Highway 1 Big Sur collapse last March.

Los Angeles County closed Paseo del Mar in September after the road began to sink. A 600 foot section collapsed into the sea last weekend. County officials say rebuilding the scenic route is unlikely.

Devil’s Slide

California State Highway 1 between Half Moon Bay and Pacifica passes through a dramatic coastal promontory called Devil’s Slide. An almost yearly cycle of destructive erosion and reconstruction prompted the $340 million Devil’s Slide Tunnel and Bridge Project.

When the new route opens to the public late in 2012, the bypassed section of Highway 1 will be turned over to San Mateo County Parks, and that segment of the Coast Highway will become a pedestrian and bike path giving access to dramatic coast vistas.

Local road funding

When (not if) the Coast Highway washes into the ocean after Caltrans transfers ownership to San Mateo County, the county will likely have to close their newly acquired park. They have no funds to fix this damage when it occurs.

My own town faces a similar issue right now. Last spring, a large landslide demolished Nelson Road, blocking access to 33 homes. The county bulldozed a temporary lane around the slide and have asked the state for $1.2 million to rebuild the road, but funding seems unlikely. Besides Nelson Road, Santa Cruz County has another $15 million in backlogged storm damage on rural roads.

As roads disintegrate all around the state of California, funding at the state and local level to maintain, repair and replace these roads are not available. While cycling around Santa Cruz, I’ve never seen so many monster potholes and missing road lanes as this year.

Kinda sorta related: The impact of natural gas fracking on rural roads . Adding truck traffic to those roads increases maintenance costs and risk.

One comment

  • November 23, 2011 - 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Don’t forget about the sections of freeway in San Francisco that collapsed in the 1989 quake.  People blame bikes for that these days, which may account for those searches.

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