Highway 299 is severed once again by a rockslide about 28 miles west of Weaverville, and motorists can expect pretty lengthy delays.
According to Caltrans, don’t expect to make the drive between Weaverville and Willow Creek until the middle of next week.
Trisha Coder is a spokeswoman for Caltrans.
“Monday morning we had a significant slide that brought down a lot of large boulders, and right after we cleared that we had a second slide that pretty much filled up our catchment area that we had built,” she said.
An unstable hillside and incoming rain has forced Caltrans to stop work at the site. Workers will have a big job ahead of them upon their return.
“In these recent slides that we just had, about a 100,000 cubic yards of material came down, so that’s about 5,500 dump trucks,” Coder said.
And that’s only if this week’s storms don’t cause more of the hill to give way. Incoming storms are expected to dump four inches of rain on the area by Friday.
Coder said it will likely be late in the spring before engineers can access the crumbling hillside and determine a long term course of action. Officials will have to find a way to stabilize the area or re-route the highway.
“We have a series of storms coming and they seem pretty severe,” she said. “So, we’re going to just watch it for a while and see what it does, and of course we’ll have our crews out there and if it keeps coming down we’ll just keep trying to keep up with it as best we can.”
The slides occurred in a place familiar to locals: west of Big Bar at Big French Creek. Boulders and rock have been tumbling off the same hillside for a year, forcing periodic closures at the same spot. Coder said the highway traverses areas prone to slides, especially when wet. Officials are trying to line up emergency funding to cover the cost of repairs.