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Traffic Moving on California Highway After Lane Collapsed During Storm

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Traffic was moving again Sunday on California’s scenic Highway 1 after a section of the coastal route collapsed during an Easter weekend storm, forcing closures and stranding motorists near Big Sur, authorities said.

The collapse occurred amid rain Saturday afternoon near Rocky Creek Bridge about 27 kilometers south of Monterey, sending chunks of asphalt tumbling into the ocean from the southbound side of the two-lane roadway.

The highway was closed in both directions in the mountainous area of the central coast as engineers assessed the damage, said the California Department of Transportation, or Caltrans.

“We are working on a plan to get motorists evacuated from the area,” the California Highway Patrol said Saturday. Officials didn’t say how many people were stranded.

By Sunday afternoon, crews had determined that travel in the northbound lane was safe, and authorities began escorting motorists around the damaged section.

The famous highway has seen frequent closures because of collapses, mud flows and rockslides during severe weather.

The slow-moving storm dumped heavy rain at lower elevations and more than 30 centimeters of snow at Sierra Nevada ski resorts around Lake Tahoe.

Ryan Kittell, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said the system is typical for March but was not an atmospheric river like many of the other storms that have pounded the state in recent winters.

The storm exited the San Francisco Bay Area on Friday and “just marched right down the California coast,” bringing most of the rainfall to the Los Angeles area, Kittell said.

The storm then parked itself over Southern California, where it was expected to stay until Sunday night or into Monday. Showers and possible thunderstorms, with the potential for lightning and damaging winds, were possible for parts of Santa Barbara, Ventura and LA counties.

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