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Big Sur landslide on Highway 1: largest in California state history

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And it’s still moving

The mudslide the crashed on California State Route 1 on Saturday has resulted in $1 billion dollars in highway damage. The weekend slide buried parts of the coastal highway under a 40-foot layer of dirt and rock. Recent aerial shots from above show a massive mud dome that created a wide skirt over the road, down the cliff, and onto the shore below.

The mudslide is being billed as the biggest in recorded state history. "It's one of a kind," Susana Cruz, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Transportation, told Associated Press. “We haven't been able to go up there and assess. It's still moving," Cruz said.

Geologists and engineers plan on visiting the site later this week to devise a clean-up strategy.

SFist reports, “The Mud Creek slide is what's known as a deep-seated landslide according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which typically lie dormant for extended periods and will occur in the spring after excessive winter rains reach the deeply seated, most slippery layer of soil.”

These two images of Highway 1, before and after the mudslide, show the gravity of the situation.

That billion-dollar estimate also includes potential revenue lost due to a drop in tourism. Big Sur relies heavily on vacationers for money and Highway 1 as its main artery. Right now the only way into Big Sur south of Pfeiffer Canyon is via helicopter, or by Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, a winding, mountainous terrain.

Further, after winter storms and a bridge collapse this year, the area’s service industry had already been feeling the pinch. As Eater reported earlier this month, “Now, with access to these and neighboring businesses cut by mudslides and a collapsed bridge following winter rains, many Big Sur restaurateurs are experiencing the type of closures or slowdowns that are becoming more common as extreme weather, aging infrastructure, and even acts of terrorism hit culinary destinations.”

After this most recent mudslide, the situation could become even more dire for restaurants in the area.

On the flip side, this natural-disaster setback has created an even more luxe experience for wealthy vacationers. As the Mercury-News reports, “For prices ranging from $4,300 to $13,500, the posh Post Ranch Inn will carry you and a friend to the resort by helicopter from the Del Monte Aviation’s tarmac at Monterey Regional Airport for a two- to four-night stay—meals and yoga included. The package is called ‘Escape Through The Skies.’”

No word yet as to when the highway will reopen or what engineering efforts will be used to restore the road.