Four more months until Devil’s Slide can reopen to traffic

Devil's Slide, a narrow stretch of scenic Highway 1 connecting San Francisco to the San Mateo coast, will remain closed for another four months while undergoing repairs, officials announced Monday.

The ongoing closure means coastside residents will continue to feel the economic pinch, cut off — to a large extent — from visitors and tourists from San Francisco. Many businesses have been seriously impacted, seeing sales drop 35 percent to 50 percent, area Chamber of Commerce President Charise McHugh said.</p>

The infamous stretch of scenic highway was shut down April 2after weeks of rain eroded the cliff above the road, causing boulders to fall. The rains also caused huge gaps in the road, making it impossible for motorists to pass.

The highway is prone to closures, having been shut down a handful of times since 1980.

The most recent damage to the highway, which exceeds the last major slide in 1995 that closed the highway for six months, is tentatively estimated at about $7.5 million, officials said. Repairs are projected to take until the end of September, said Bijan Sartipi, Caltrans’ district director.

Sartipi said Caltrans was taking the unusual step of assigning crews to work around-the-clock on the project to expedite the reopening of the road.

“Obviously, we want it open yesterday,” said Wayne Meyer, of the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. “But it seems like they're taking a fairly aggressive approach and working 24/7.”

Meyer, whose son now has a two-hour commute from the coast to Foster City to work because of the closure, said the popular brewery has taken a hit of about 25 percent in its revenues since the highway was shut. He was recently forced to lay off eight workers because of the lack of business.

To make the needed repairs, workers will have to hang over the side of the cliff to drill about 200 holes 150 feet deep into the side of the mountain. Workers will attempt to “tie” the slide back to the more stable interior of the mountain using compression cables to squeeze the slide, Caltrans spokesman John Cunliffe said .

The federal government is footing the bill for the job using emergency funding, officials said.

ecarpenter@examiner.com

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