Highway 41, which has been closed since early January, could reopen sometime this weekend.
“We are very, very close,” Caltrans spokesman Jim Shivers said, adding that the agency will make an official announcement regarding the road about midday Friday.
The highway has been closed since Jan. 6, when about 2,000 cubic yards of dirt and rock — enough to fill about 133 dump trucks — slid from the top of a hillside down onto the road hundreds of feet below. Slides at the site are usually about 100 cubic yards.
When authorities went out to assess the slide, they saw that the hillside had become top-heavy with dirt and rocks with nothing to support the weight. Crews have been using a machine called a spider to take out unstable dirt and rock that could tumble down onto the road.
Between 15,000 and 25,000 cubic yards of material would need to be removed to stabilize the hillside, authorities estimated.
Shivers said crews have removed 21,000 cubic yards of dirt and rock. The next step is to finish draping netting along the hillside to catch small slides.
“We are optimistic we can have the opening of Highway 41 sometime this weekend, weather permitting,” Shivers said. “The only catch is, if it rains like crazy, as expected, it could change everything.”
The Central Coast is forecast to receive 1.25 to 2 inches of rain Thursday night through Friday afternoon, PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey said. Coastal areas may get some drizzle Saturday before clear skies take over on Sunday.