Pitkins Curve Bridge and Rock Shed, Big Sur

Pitkins Curve Bridge and Rock Shed, Big Sur

by | Mar 4, 2021

Pitkins Curve Bridge and Rock Shed are on the Big Sur Coast Highway just north of Limekiln State Park, about 45 miles (73 km) southeast of Monterey and 1.5 miles (2.4 km) south of Lucia, California. The new bridge and adjacent rock shed were opened in 2014. The project realigned the road and reduced the impact of falling rocks on the highway. Rockfall was so severe that the curve was known as Rain Rocks. The new segmental bridge is 620 feet (189 m) long and utilizes a cast-in-place pre-stressed box girder design.

Big Sur Coast Highway is a section of California State Route 1 through the Big Sur region of California that is widely considered to be one of the most scenic driving routes in the United States. Prior to its completion, the California coast south of Carmel and north of San Simeon was one of the most remote regions in the state. In 1920, the 26 miles (42 km) from Monterey south to the Pfeiffer Ranch in the Big Sur valley could be completed in about 11 hours with a light spring wagon pulled by two horses. There was no road beyond the Pfeiffer Ranch, only a horse trail connecting the homesteads to the south.

A road was first proposed in 1894 by Dr. John L.D. Roberts, a physician who resided on the Monterey Peninsula, who was summoned to assist in treating survivors of the wreck of the S.S. Los Angeles. The ship had run aground near the Point Sur Light Station about 25 miles (40 km) south of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The ride took him ​3 1⁄2 hours using a two-wheeled horse-drawn cart, and he subsequently launched a campaign to build a road. Funds were appropriated by the California State Legislature in 1919, and federal funds were added in 1921. Construction commenced largely with prison labor, and after 18 years the paved two-lane road was completed and opened on June 17, 1937. Read more here and here. Explore more of Pitkins Curve Bridge and Rock Shed here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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