Mud Slide Blocking 101
Hank Sims / Wednesday, March 30, 2011 @ 12:22 p.m. / Emergencies
UPDATE, 3:18 p.m. : Larry Trask spoke with Mark Benzinger of local road construction firm Mercer Fraser a few moments ago. They talked about what it typically takes to get highways back open in these circumstances. Audio below:
UPDATE, 2:40 p.m .: The California Highway Patrol dumps a massive load of photos on us. Slideshow below:
UPDATE, 2:33 p.m. : Ann Jones of Caltrans gave Larry Trask of KHUM the agency’s “last update until Friday morning.” Tomorrow, it turns out, is a state holiday.
Basically, Caltrans has nothing new since the press release we excerpted a few moments ago. The agency is certain the road will be closed for at least “the next few days,” while the CHP is insisting on two weeks at a bare minimum. (See update at 2:00 p.m., below.) Audio below:
UPDATE, 2:25 p.m. : Larry Trask’s interview with Michael McAllister, superintendent of the Southern Humboldt Unified School District, is below. As noted previously, South Fork High, Redway School and the Osprey Learning Center are closed tomorrow and Friday:
UPDATE, 2:19 p.m. : From a just-issued Caltrans press release: “The mudslide is 600 feet wide, extends 1,500 feet above the roadway, and continues to move.”
UPDATE: 2:14 p.m .: Officials from the Southern Humboldt Unified School district tell KHUM’s Larry Trask that South Fork High, Osprey School and Redway School will be closed tomorrow and Friday.
UPDATE, 2:00 p.m.: KHUM’s Larry Trask just spoke with Martin Abshire of the Redway California Highway Patrol office. Abshire says that the slide has “destroyed” the roadbed, and he fully expects that it will be at least two weeks before any traffic at all goes across that stretch. He also warns drivers away from using the Briceland route as an alternative.
For his money, the “safest route” between here and there is Hwy. 299 to I-5 to Hwy. 20.
UPDATE: 1:32 p.m. : Welcome, visitors from sfgate.com . If you’re planning a trip to Humboldt this weekend, tune into KHUM Radio at around 2:30 p.m. for an interview with Caltrans about what traffic on Hwy 101 is going to look like tomorrow and through the weekend. (Direct link to the KHUM stream here .)
Worse comes to worst? Alternate routes available here , though there should be better information by the weekend. Hey — you take a detour, you drive through some of the world’s most majestic and scenic trees. All good, right?
Most likely. Check back at the Lost Coast Outpost tomorrow. We’ll have updates and the latest driving information for you, just for you.
UPDATE, 1:14 p.m .: Caltrans’ Ann Jones tells us that engineers are examining the site, but she has nothing new to report at the moment. She’ll be on KHUM radio at 2:30 p.m. to give us all a new update. That’s 104.3 and 104.7 FM. Click here to go directly to the KHUM stream.
UPDATE, 12:24 p.m.: Detours — click here for a post on what we know about your very bad options at the current time .
UPDATE 12:08 a.m. : Art Reeve of the Humboldt County Public Works Department spoke with KHUM’s Mike Dronkers. Commercial trucks are being diverted to I-5, he said, and the county up plowing the snow from Dyerville Loop Road at this time. Passenger vehicles should be able to travel it soon. Audio follows.
UPDATE, 11:55 a.m . Incredible aerial photo courtesy Supervisor Mark Lovelace’s Facebook feed.
UPDATE, 11:50 a.m. : KSLG’s John Matthews spoke to Caltrans’ Ann Jones at 11:30 a.m. She said that the highway will likely be closed for “at least a couple days,” but that the agency will have a better estimate by 2 p.m. She said that the two-week figure coming from the CHP “seems high” — but again, she is only speculating. Audio below.
UPDATE, 11:39 a.m .: The county public works department is closing county roads to commecial trucks (over 30 feet axle-to-axle.) All trucks will have to detour to I-5.
UPDATE, 11:32 a.m. : New SoHum emergency-focused Facebook group SoHum Awareness is reporting that administrators at South Fork High are meeting to figure out how to get kids home .
UPDATE, 11:28 a.m. : Mike Dronkers talks with KMUD News’ Cynthia Elkins, who describes the slide and confirmed that the CHP is forecasting a very, very long closure.
UPDATE, 11:14 a.m .: Cynthia Elkins of KMUD News tells KHUM’s Mike Dronkers that CHP is confirming that they expect the highway to close for two wee ks. TWO WEEKS . She was on the scene, and she describes and absolutely massive landslide that has buckled the road, and that continues to slide.
Audio soon. Meanwhile, photos from Cynthia’s Flickr stream.
UPDATE, 10:50 a.m .: Er, what’s that now, @humboldtchp? We’re assuming this doesn’t mean precisely what it seems to mean at first glance.
UPDATE, 10:30 a.m. : So the slide is right about here, more or less:
UPDATE, 10:26 a.m. : KMUD has some tiny cell phone photos .
UPDATE, 10:08 a.m. : A word of warning from @ humboldtchp , which is a real-time transcript of what goes out over the local dispatch channels. Some locals are attempting to circumvent the slide by going up Dyerville loop, but are meeting an obstacle:
UPDATE, 9:55 a.m. Caltrans’ Ann Jones tells Cliff Berkowitz that it’ll be at least this afternoon before the agency will know when the road might be reopened. Traffic closed in both directions for the time being. Audio to follow.
UPDATE 9:45 a.m. : Caltrans confirms that a very large mudslide has closed the highway at mile marker 15.47, just north of Dean Creek. No estimate yet as to when the road might reopen.
UPDATE, 9:41 p.m.:
UPDATE, 9:37 a.m .: More callers reporting the same thing.