LOS GATOS (KPIX 5) — Santa Clara County and Caltrans crews are keeping an eye on unstable hillsides on Hicks Rd. near Los Gatos. Crews have placed concrete barriers bolted together as a quick fix to stop mudslides from blocking the road during Monday’s storm.
Drivers are happy with the temporary solution, which will save them from having to detour all the way around the road if it lasts through the storm.
“For what I gotta do, it’s the best thing to happen, you know?” said Eric Zalaya.
Earlier this month, the last atmospheric river turned Hicks Rd. into a rocky, soupy mess. Now, a large chunk of the steep, muddy hill is gone, exposing a layer of more stable rocky shale. There are some trees that cling right on the edge of the hillside with exposed roots.
Santa Clara County hopes the barriers will hold the hillside through the onslaught of Monday’s storm.
“Once this last storm rolls through, probably a month to let it dry completely out. We’ll go out there and clean everything up and be able to give them the whole road back,” said Dan Pendergraft of Santa Clara County Roads.
Crews in the South Bay were also making progress on another major shutdown after installing vertical piles to reinforce the road. However, the continued rain has made it difficult to give an accurate estimate on the opening.
Three weeks ago, the ground below the road started to give way, in what’s known as a “slipout.” After nearly a month of posted warning signs, media coverage and closures on Google Maps, drivers are still trying to pass through, only to get frustrated and disappointed.
One driver trying to reach her grandchildren in Palo Alto told KPIX 5 she had to take a 27 mile detour; she looped back around onto Highway 9, then to Highway 85 before finally driving onto Highway 280.
As for the reopening of Highway 35, the best estimate officials had was for one lane to be open at the end of February, but that likely will not happen until early or mid-March.
Keep up with the atmospheric river on CBS San Francisco Weather.