Residents and business owners gathered in Big Sur on Friday to celebrate the completion of the new Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, which after eight months of closure reopens a stretch of Highway 1 (also known as Pacific Coast Highway) that will reconnect Big Sur to travelers coming from the north.

One of the main support columns of the previous Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge collapsed in February from a landslide triggered by heavy rainfall. The bridge was demolished in March. That cut off access to Big Sur via Highway 1 from the north.

In May, the massive Mud Creek Slide buried a quarter-mile stretch of Highway 1, cutting off access to Big Sur from the south and creating what some referred to as "Big Sur island."

Part of the southern section reopened in July, but the region's tourism industry still limped along throughout the summer as it awaited the new Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge.

"Tourism is critical to the economic growth of the region, and many of our residents rely on tourism for their livelihood," said Tammy Blount, CEO of the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau. "The residents in Big Sur have truly united and persevered through these difficult and challenging times."

The CVB noted that residents for months have been hiking a bypass trail that was built by the community to connect the north and south side of Big Sur. "The trail was a necessity and became part of the daily commute for many residents of Big Sur such as the children who needed to get to school or families who needed to get to grocery stores for food and other items."

With the opening of the rebuilt bridge, visitors can drive from the Monterey peninsula down Highway 1 straight to and through Big Sur. Guests will also be able to access hotels and restaurants that have been effectively cut off from visitors for months, including the Post Ranch Inn, Nepenthe restaurant and Ventana Big Sur (a hotel celebrating its reopening this month) .

"With the reopening of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, visitors from throughout the world can once again access the majestic nature of Big Sur in its entirety, and the recovery efforts for residents and businesses in the area can begin," stated Caroline Beteta, CEO of tourism-marketing agency Visit California.

A 30-mile stretch of Highway 1 between Gorda (about 60 miles south of Big Sur) and San Simeon further south is still closed. Caltrans said it expects to reopen that portion of the highway by late summer 2018.

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