The California Highway Department has finally released its long-awaited management plan for Highway One in Big Sur.
Key issues identified by state planners include increasing levels of traffic brought on by relentless promotion of the area as a vacation destination and the social media-induced tendency of visitors to gather in large numbers at a few highly congested and overused attractions.
Critical overuse hot spots are identified as Bixby Bridge, Pfeiffer Beach and McWay Falls. As demand for parking at these places vastly exceeds available space, tourists wait, or park, in the roadway, resulting in the complete loss of Highway One and Sycamore Canyon Rd. as viable transportation corridors.
The management plan also notes that a lack of restroom facilities is turning the roadsides into open sewers, but finds that this is a problem outside the scope of their, or anyone’s, responsibility.
The plan outlines a practical approach to maintaining traffic flow based on reducing visitation to the three most overused areas.
First, the plan calls for immediate replacement of the nearly 90-year-old Bixby Bridge with a nondescript, “freeway style” bridge. “The bridge is going to need to be replaced before too long anyway,” comments lead planner Greg Samsa, “and that graceful pre-war arch design really has no place in the modern world anyway. It’s become an attractive nuisance. Once no one wants to look at the bridge anymore; Voila! Problem solved.”
Pfeiffer Beach is the simplest and least expensive congestion problem to address. Planners note that the main driver of tourism in that location is the desire to take sensitive, soul-stirring photos of sunlight streaming through the famous hole in the rock. As it has been determined that there are now enough versions of this photo in circulation that it would take several lifetimes to view them all, planners conclude that additional photos are no longer needed and that the best approach is to simply plug the hole with concrete (tastefully textured to mimic the surrounding rock, of course).
The project outlined for McWay Falls, at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, is equally straightforward. “Many have noted that at some time in the geologic past the creek ran straight down the canyon to the back of the cove,” notes Samsa. “It was probably an ancient landslide that diverted the creek to its present course, sending it over the 80-foot waterfall. That means all we have to do is construct a new culvert redirecting the stream back into its original, more natural, waterfall-free course. No waterfall, no traffic jam. It’s a no-brainer.”
The large concrete culverts conducting Big Sur streams under the Highway serve an important secondary role as community bulletin boards.
And as outlets for personal artistic expression.
Big Sewer: Tourists relieve themselves anywhere and everywhere. As public restrooms are unsightly, costly, and no one’s responsibility, this problem is unsolvable and residents and visitors alike might as well just get used to these squalid conditions.