By Len Ramirez

SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) — It’s been two months since a massive slide cut off a section of Highway 35 in Santa Cruz, but it will still be some time before repairs are completed.

The closure is inconveniencing residents and stranding tourists.

High up in the Santa Cruz mountains, Highway 35 is still a road to nowhere.

A massive mudslide created a 300-foot chasm where the road once stood in early February.

There has been a lot of talk about repairs, but little physical progress towards fixing it.

“They’re taking surveys and stuff, but just look at it. It’s going to take a lot of work to restore it,” said area resident Maria Potapov.

Potapov and her family live in a sort of no man’s land right now, halfway between the big slide and a smaller slide about a mile to the north.

Fortunately, the smaller side wasn’t a complete washout. But the family is down to just one fragile lane out to get to town.

“It’s been really freaky that roads have been breaking,” said Alysa Potapov, Maria’s 8-year-old daughter. “But I’m really glad that people are working on them, but it seems like it’s going to take centuries to fix them.”

It may seem that long for residents commuting to work and school who now must use narrow and windy Black Road, which is also down to a single lane in spots.

“The commute is longer. When storms hit, you never know if you will be able to get home or how long it’s going to take. It’s been difficult,” said Maria Potapov.

The chasm is so deep and so wide, it presents particular problems for the engineers trying to fix it. Some have suggested building a bridge across it, while others say it might be necessary to build a new road around it.

Caltrans estimates fixing the slide could cost $29 million, making it one of the most expensive storm repair projects in the state.

To make matters worse for neighbors, the slide has become a sort of tourist attraction on weekends, adding parking problems and more traffic to already difficult travel though the area.

  1. Bruce Hunter says:

    This stretch of Hwy 35 ,southeast of the Hwy 9 intersection not used by very many motorists. There is a back way out using a single lane road for residents in this area. I find it difficult to see how a 29 MILLION DOLLAR fix is a prudent expenditure. This fix is MORE expensive than the much more traveled Hwy 1 Bridge that failed. It is unfortunate that this happened but shouldn’t a cost benefit analysis be applied here?

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