Officials hope the trail connecting the two segments of Big Sur severed by the downed Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge will open to the general public July 1, with a shuttle service bringing visitors to the footpath on one end and picking them up on the other.
A total of $275,000 was allotted by Monterey County supervisors for the program in an effort to bring tourists back to an area that is seeing an estimated shortfall of about $20,000 per day in tax revenue. According to a study, San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties could face a $554 million loss in revenue because of closures on Highway 1.
“Were really enthusiastic about it,” said Supervisor Mary Adams, who represents Big Sur on the board. “We are just absolutely hopeful that it will stimulate business. Just among locals, there are so many people who are really willing to go and help the businesses on the island.”
The “island” is the segment of Big Sur between Pfeiffer Canyon to the north and closures caused by landslides in the south. While the bridge should be operational by September, the massive slide at Mud Creek in the south near the San Luis Obispo County line will keep Highway 1 closed for about a year. Many Big Sur attractions north of Pfeiffer Canyon remain accessible to travelers and a detour via Nacimiento-Fergusson Road provides public access between Gorda and Limekiln State Park. Residents have limited access through Paul’s Slide north of Limekiln.
Sur Transportation, a private company that runs coastal tours and wedding shuttles along the Big Sur coast, will operate the shuttles. Two vans, which can hold up to 10 people, will operate on a schedule on the north side of the trail from Andrew Molera State Park to the beginning of the trail at Big Sur Station and two will operate on the south side of the trail. Adams said three backup vehicles will be ready to be put into the rotation if needed.
In addition to parking at Andrew Molera State Park, visitors will be able to ride Monterey-Salinas Transit down to Big Sur from Carmel.
The cost has yet to be determined, but Adams said children 12 and under will likely be able to ride for free.
The trail will remain in use by local residents and workers, as well. Adams said a rail will be installed to help those hiking up a particularly steep part of the trail. A team of local volunteers, members of the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade, State Parks employees and California Conservation Corps members completed the trail in March.