Saturday, July 29, 2017

Rebuilding A Mountain


Back on April 26th, a landslide came down and blocked both lanes of Highway 101, the major route in and out of Humboldt County. A traveler that day videoed the event. The winter rains had been playing havoc with the roads for months, which is why there were already work crews there trying to keep the highway open with at least one lane of traffic. This, of course, closed it down completely for a while. When we headed south on July 13th, this part of the highway was still down to one lane of traffic, with up to 40 minute delays while workers attempted to shore up the side of the mountain.
It was a beautiful sunny day while we waited with other travelers, parked along the Eel River. That patch of brown mountain is where the slide came down. While we waited, we heard a helicopter approach and looked up to see this.
The helicopter was bringing metal netted sheeting to be place on the side of the mountain in an effort to secure it and to keep it from rock-sliding down again on to the already beleaguered highway. We watched as it lowered these strips to workers hardly visible on the mountainside.
The pattern seemed to be to do four helicopter deliveries, and then let the traffic go through. So we just watched and waited our turn for the call for south traffic to come ahead. A very nice employee drove along telling everyone, "Get ready to start your engines!"
How's that for a long, arduous day's work?
Our return trip was on a Sunday, so we didn't get to see any work being done. There are traffic lights installed at both ends of the work zone, letting the traffic pass north and south, one lane at a time. The work is supposed to go on until October, when the winter rains could begin again.

21 comments:

  1. Whoa. Enormous project; did you see there is a hiking trail for the people down in that Big Sur area afected by a slide to get in and out of their town?
    So many factors in these messes.

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    1. isabelita-- Oh yes, I've read about the hiking trail at Big Sur. I'm beginning to think some of these roads need to move to more stable ground.

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  2. Mad crazy work! I can't even image!

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    1. Tara-- It really is mad crazy work. I wonder what comes after the mesh. And the video makes me think that all those rocks had been put there as a slide deterrence. Mmmm. It'll be interesting to see how they repair this.

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  3. Terrible! Hope that metal mesh works well.

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    1. kenju-- I have been wondering what they will put over that mesh. Such unsteady ground here. Not to mention the four relatively small earthquakes we've had here in the past month. Yikes!

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  4. What an enormous and dangerous task. And like you said it's going to be another rainy season in 3 or 4 months. Almost seems futile. Humans can be amazing taking on road building sometimes. Nifty post. Good pictures. Thanks.

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    1. Jsk-- Interestingly, I was going to call this post "Futile Efforts." I'm not sure how long these kind of fixes last, and we do know that eventually that mountain is coming down way one or another. Glad you liked the post and pics!

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  5. Beyond a doubt, they'll have to move the road, unless they want to engage in that Sisyphean task until the whole mountain side comes down beyond leaving the road beyond repair.
    Those are amazing photos documenting the work being done. Also, in the video, I don't understand why the workers waited so long to run. I would've been outta there when the first rock came down!

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    1. CCorax-- Oh yes, eventually this road will be moved. It's going to be expensive and take years. The video is pretty amazing. It really shows how fast these things happen, and yet the workers took their time. Interestingly, we've had four earthquakes in the past month. The ones in June were 3.5 and 4.1. Yesterday and today there was a 5.1 (that's bordering on significant), and a 4.6. Things rock here all the time! Glad you liked the photos and documentation. Thank you for that.

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    1. Unknown-- I can't tell if your comment is real or spam. Sorry.

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  7. Seems like it would be easier just to move the road than to rebuild the mountain, but there is a reason I am not a civil engineer. There are such mesh rock walls here in Kansas City and they seem to work.

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    1. paullamb-- I think eventually they will move this road. A little ways past this point the road winds through an ancient grove of redwoods. It's stunningly beautiful. There's been a lot of talk over the years of widening the road as well. Lots of ways to improve things, and also to preserve 2000 year old redwoods.

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  8. Hopefully it will hold when the rains resume! How interesting to see how they're solving this problem. Nature is mightier than our engineering, but our engineering is pretty impressive!

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    1. Steve-- It will be interesting to see what the hillside looks like when they have it completed. Yes, nature is definitely mightier than our engineering.

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  9. Though the delay couldn't have been fun, you took advantage and got to witness something few will ever see. Man has to get up early to try to beat nature.

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    1. Patti-- The delay wasn't bad at all. Hanging out with other travelers on the edge of the cliff above the Eel River. It could be much worse! My favorite new saying: Earth Bats Last.

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  10. That is crazy! I know that stretch of road very well. I feel bad for the few small businesses in the area that totally rely on the traffic from that road. I would have commented sooner, but I followed the link and watched the video. Next thing I knew, 2 hours had passed because I watched SO MANY natural disaster videos.

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    1. Pat-- It really is crazy. It'll be interesting to see what the final fix looks like in October. The videos are pretty great, aren't they!

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