Engineers on Thursday were working to figure out when they'll be able to reopen a stretch of California coastal highway that collapsed into the ocean, blocking traffic to the scenic Big Sur region.
A 40-foot section of Highway 1 crumbled just after 5 p.m. Wednesday following several days of rainy weather. The entire southbound lane is gone, and the soil under the northbound lane also was giving way.
No one was injured in the slide, the California Highway Patrol said. Authorities have closed the two-lane road to traffic indefinitely.
The collapse occurred south of Carmel near Rocky Creek Bridge, one of the iconic arch bridges that make the stretch of roadway, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, one of the country's best known scenic drives.
California Department of Transportation officials told The Monterey Herald they would know closer to the end of Thursday when the road would be reopened.
The closure comes as spring tourist season is about to get under way.
"There is too much going down here to allow an extended closure," Alan Perlmutter told the newspaper. Perlmutter is a partner in the Big Sur River Inn, one of the many inns and lodges that depend on the dollars of tourists drawn to dramatic coastal vistas, where forested mountainsides plunge into blue seas.
Other inns and restaurants reported a mix of no-shows and guests who were forced to stay longer because of the blocked road.
The best alternate route to Big Sur from the north would require drivers to take Highway 101 inland through the Salinas Valley and drive over a steep, winding mountain road to the coast, adding at least an hour to the trip.