Pacific Coast Highway Portion Reopens After Landslide
NOEL KING, HOST:
All right. It is once again possible to drive through California's beautiful coastal region that's known as Big Sur. The Pacific Coast Highway reopened there this week. A massive landslide had shut off access more than a year ago. From member station KAZU, Krista Almanzan reports.
KRISTA ALMANZAN, BYLINE: California's Highway 1 is a drive so varied and beautiful that it is a tourist destination in and of itself. It runs through valleys of towering redwood trees and along the edge of steep cliffs that plummet into the Pacific Ocean.
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ALMANZAN: At one of the many vista points in Big Sur, Heather Smith hops out of her rental SUV.
HEATHER SMITH: We flew in to LA, and I'm taking that Pacific Coast highway up to San Francisco.
ALMANZAN: Smith is visiting from Memphis, Tenn.
ALMANZAN: She's doing the drive with her mom, sister, daughter and two nieces.
SMITH: It is beautiful. Everyone has told us how pretty it is, and it's really - pictures just doesn't do it justice. It's really pretty.
ALMANZAN: Back in May of 2017, a massive landslide dumped so much rock and dirt on the roadway that it added 15 acres of land to the coast. This week, a new quarter-mile $54 million stretch of road built on top of the landslide opened. It's a small stretch that will make a big difference.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Medium-well, no onions...
ALMANZAN: It's nearly noon at the Big Sur Roadhouse, and there's just one couple sitting down for lunch. Summertime usually means the restaurant and accompanying hotel are packed. But general manager Melissa Morris says business has been way down.
MELISSA MORRIS: You can call and get a cabin right now, whereas normally, it's booked almost a year in advance.
ALMANZAN: Morris says she's ready for tourists to return, especially after international news coverage of the landslide scared away so many visitors.
MORRIS: I'm hoping everyone hears it's open and they start doing the drive again.
ALMANZAN: A drive that takes 10 hours from Southern California to the Bay Area, with plenty of communities happy to welcome guests again. For NPR News, I'm Krista Almanzan in Big Sur.
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