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Big Sur's Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge mostly demolished, leaving gaping hole in Hwy. 1

After a rocky start, construction crews demolished about two-thirds of the cracking Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge in Big Sur on Saturday, leaving a gaping hole in the middle of the Highway 1 bridge.

Crews knocked down the infrastructure’s two fractured columns, Caltrans District 5 spokeswoman Susana Cruz said Saturday evening. Videos of the demolition show debris — which will be reused in the new bridge or recycled — falling into the canyon below.

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Work on bringing down the rest of the bridge will resume Monday, when crews will focus on breaking the final, more intact column and clearing the wreckage, Cruz said. It may take the entire week to finish the process, Cruz said, and rain expected to move into the Central Coast could delay the work further.

The demolition, which was slated to begin Monday, was halted after a 6,000-pound wrecking ball failed to break the bridge’s supports. Construction picked up again Thursday after crews adjusted the arm of the crane and swapped two of its valves so the wrecking ball would drop with more force.

During recent storms, the structure — which connects Big Sur village in the north to the southern half of the coastal community — shifted several feet and received fractures to two of its three columns. Officials said the bridge was “damaged beyond repair” and declared a permanent closure in mid-February.

Plans for the new bridge have been approved, Cruz said, and shipments for the new steel shipments have begun to arrive.

The new bridge, contracted by Golden State Engineering and designed by Caltrans Structure Design, will cost between $20 million and $21 million, Cruz said.

Megan Henney: 805-781-7915, @megan_henney

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