After delay, Caltrans estimates Highway 9 to reopen March 17

Crews face a landslide in the Santa Cruz Mountains
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Wet conditions have hampered further progress on stabilizing a slope in Ben Lomond to allow for one-way traffic. Glen Arbor Road remains the available detour.

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After Caltrans said Tuesday that Highway 9 would no longer be ready for its initial anticipated Saturday reopening date, the agency announced Wednesday that the affected stretch of road in Ben Lomond is now expected to reopen March 17.

About a half-mile of the road between upper and lower Glen Arbor Road has been fully closed since New Year’s Eve, when approximately 200 feet of hillside adjacent to the winding highway collapsed as a deluge of atmospheric rivers soaked the Central Coast.

Caltrans Emergency Response Engineer Jake Bradbury previously told Lookout that crews had been at a standstill for a few days because of safety concerns and persistent instability in the slide zone.

The worksite has been affected not only by the additional storms over the past week, but also by water that continues to spill out of the hillside, bringing more debris down to the road, according to a Caltrans news release.

Now, while the sun is out, contractors are working to remove debris, continue draining water from the hillside and rebuild a damaged retaining wall. Once the road is reopened, crews will install a temporary traffic signal for one-way traffic as repairs continue and the agency lands on a permanent solution for the slide site.