Hefty jackhammer takes down Big Sur bridge

Mar 20, 2017

Work continues this week on the demolition of Monterey County’s Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge on Highway 1. On Saturday, a CalTrans crew succeeded at bringing down the whole middle section of the bridge in one spectacular crash.

Last week the crew initially tried to use a wrecking ball to knock it down, but the bridge spans a deep, narrow canyon, posing an insurmountable challenge for engineers to position the 6,000 pound wrecking ball in order for it to swing with enough force.

So workers tried another method. Using a giant jackhammer attached to a front loader, workers drilled down from the top of the bridge until it broke apart. Once the jackhammer severed a key connector, the main span of the bridge collapsed all at once, falling to the canyon floor below in a plume of concrete dust.

CalTrans spokesperson Jim Shivers says demo work on the bridge’s span #1 starts Monday.

“Weather permitting and that is expected to take several days to complete,” Shivers said. “In addition, work to recover debris from the demolished spans will occur over the next several days.”

Big Sur's Pfeiffer Canyon bridge was closed in February due to landslides that shifted the bridge’s support columns. A replacement is expected to be built and open for traffic in nine to 12 months.

Until then, the popular Highway One route along the Big Sur coast is closed from San Luis Obispo County's Ragged Point to just south of Big Sur State Park. Monterey County residents looking for traffic updates are asked to call the District 5 toll free number at 1-831-372-0862.

Watch a video shot of Saturday’s demolition by Big Sur resident Kyle Evans.