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
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.