VIDEO: Return of rain has road crews keeping an eye on active Highway 17 slide areas

Photo courtesy of CHP Santa Cruz.


SANTA CRUZ COUNTY (KRON) — The return of the rain has road crews once again keeping an eye on active slide areas and other trouble spots.

In the Santa Cruz mountains, the earth is moving once again amid the latest wet weather. On Highway 17 and Bear Creek Road, big piles of mud and debris tell the story.

That area is where Caltrans is dumping the mudslides that have been occurring throughout the area.

And with each day, even when it’s not raining, the pile gets a little bit bigger.

It didn’t seem like all that much, but the 3 inches of rain that fell in the Summit Road area overnight was enough to make one of two slides that are blocking Soquel-San Jose Road that much worse.

But there are signs people are foolishly trying to get through anyway.

“Even if it looks like a car can get through safely, it usually isn’t, which is why we have these hard closures,” CHP Officer Trista Drake said. “We already had to remove one stuck vehicle, a 4 by 4 truck that thought it could get through but it couldn’t.”

On Highway 17, the emergency repairs on the large slide near Sugar Loaf Road are holding, but there are still a number of smaller, active slides on both sides of the summit.

Caltrans is clearing clogged storm drains in those areas, but mud and rocks are still finding their way onto the highway, sometimes into the path of unsuspecting drivers, says the CHP.

“There are a lot of trees and the highway doesn’t get a lot of sun, so even after several days or weeks of clear weather, the ground still hasn’t completely dried out, so it doesn’t really have to be raining for these slides to present a danger to drivers,” Drake said.

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