Amid continued repairs, Highway 9 set to reopen March 4

Aerial view of the Highway 9 slide on Jan. 9.
(Via CalTrans)

Closed for more than a month by a mudslide between lower Glen Arbor Road and Holiday Lane in Ben Lomond, Highway 9 should be back open to traffic in a few weeks assuming weather conditions remain favorable, Caltrans says.

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Santa Cruz Mountains commuters will have to wait a little longer to get their largest transportation artery back, as Caltrans continues to remove debris and stabilize the slopes around Highway 9 in Ben Lomond.

Assuming the weather stays dry, the agency expects the highway to finally reopen in three weeks, on March 4.

“We recognize that it’s likely still early in the winter season,” said Caltrans District 5 spokesperson Kevin Drabinski. “The possibility of rain factors into putting an estimate on the reopening date.”

Highway 9, closed between lower Glen Arbor Rd. and Holiday Lane since New Year’s Eve, has required a significant amount of work. Debris littered the road and adjacent slopes, obstructing traffic operations. According to a Caltrans news release, crews worked to resculpt and stabilize the slope and install drains in the saturated landscape after the initial debris clearing.

That work revealed significant damage — more than was initially thought.

The road’s retaining wall, a structure designed to keep hillside soil from eroding, was too damaged for the agency to use temporary concrete barriers that would have allowed for one-way traffic. More rain earlier this week destabilized the hillside affected by the New Year’s Eve slide once again, rendering a reopening impossible.

(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

“The rain is coming down on already saturated soil, so this is what slows the work down,” said Drabinski. “We’re still trying to drain springs off the sides of the slope to increase stability there.”

Glen Arbor Road remains the available detour.