Highway 41 between Morro Bay and Atascadero will remain closed until mid-February, Caltrans announced Thursday, while it works to remove enough dirt and rock to fill 2 1/2 Goodyear blimps from the steep hillside above.
The highway closed Friday evening after a mudslide. At the time, Caltrans spokesman Colin Jones said it would be closed “indefinitely.”
Another Caltrans spokesman, Jim Shivers, said the agency needs to remove more than 20,000 cubic yards of material — enough to fill six Olympic-size swimming pools — from the top of a hillside about 100 feet above the highway to prevent more debris from falling onto the road. A cubic yard is 3 feet wide, 3 feet tall and 3 feet deep.
“It’s a big job,” Shivers said.
Shivers said the reason the road will be closed for so long is that a construction engineer, a geo-tech engineer and maintenance staff will be on the scene to evaluate which material needs to be removed and which needs to stay.
The closure is between Ironwood Drive in Morro Bay and San Gabriel Road in Atascadero. Drivers can use Highway 41 west of the closure in Morro Bay and east of the closure in Atascadero by showing local identification to a flagger at the closure points. Access through the slide area is limited to emergency responders.
The project is expected to cost $1.5 million.