Rain Rocks/Pitkins Curve Project

Preparations for the building of the Rock Shed at Rain Rocks and the 620 ft bridge at Pitkins Curve started November 30, 2009. It is a long involved project — projected to last a minimum of 4 years. Here, I will document the project over the course of time.

First, a little history about the project, including some photos by Cal-Trans. If I ever get Rock Knocker’s 30 years of road photos scanned in, I will add to the photographic history of this place!

Per Cal-Trans, “This area is part of an historically active landslide. Repairs were required in 1998 after the El Nino storms of that year. In February 2000, a more massive slipout below the road resulted in complete closure of the roadway. Due to the magnitude of the slipout, previous strategies for reconstructing the roadway were no longer feasible. In order to found the road on a stable base, realignment into the hillside was required; the roadway remain closed for three months while the detour was constructed. This alignment continues in place as a temporary solution until feasibility of a long-term strategy is fully evaluated.”

Here are some Cal-Trans photos of the slip-out of 2000:

Feb. 2000 slip-out


New Road Surface

Aerial of Slide

Artist Rendering of Project

This shows the artists rendering of the eventual bridge over Pitkin’s Curve and the Rock Shed at Rain Rocks. Quite a project, but one those of us on the South Coast are glad to finally see, despite the interim inconvenience.

Here is the link to the flyer Cal-Trans put out four years ago about the project: Pitkin’s Curve/Rain Rocks flyer

All Cal-Trans photos used with permission provided by Steve Price! Thanks, Steve!!

Now, below, I will be reposting all Rain Rocks/Pitkins Curve Project blog posts below, with the latest on top. Eventually, the plan is to have a photographic and written history of this ambitious project.
November 13, 2010
As promised, here are some pics of the project taken today. Unfortunately, Rock Knocker had to run off before he could explain them to me, so I could ‘splain them to you … so what you get is just the photos. What a project!! Honestly, I did pare these down to just a dozen. There were at least 5 dozen to choose from. Engineers and road aficionados might be the only ones interested in this post. And historians, like me!😉

Thanks so much, Rock Knocker for taking these so readers can see the project up close and personal, as only you can do!!
November 4, 2010
Funny, just a few days ago I was asking Rock Knocker to please, please, please go get some more shots of the Pitkins Curve Project, and today, Cal-Trans sent one.

Sorry, Cal-Trans, I had to straighten the horizon, as crooked horizons drive me nuts, even though I do it all the time. While I was there, I made it a tad underexposed, and a tad more saturated. Now you all know my secret.

Great photo, though!

Pitkins Curve Project, photo by Cal-Trans

By the time Cal-Trans is finished with this project, the motoring public won’t realize it is driving on air.
May 11, 2010
All the following photographs were taken by Rock Knocker on May 11, 2010. He promised me he would go every month or so, with his hard hat and vest, and take more so we can all follow this amazing engineering feat during its 3-year construction. Few of us could ever try to get shots like this, and even fewer would ever get permission to do so. Thanks, Rock Knocker!

And it looks like this:

Small City

It even has its own Motel 6:

Motel 6 - We'll leave the light on for ya

Not that I’d want to stay there, even with the view!

Here is the new city from a longer perspective:

The View from above

My internet has gone wonkers on me this evening, and I have quite a few more photographs to post. I will have to add them tomorrow, as I have reached my patience limit tonight.

The two work platforms (and no, it is not the start of the bridge construction, that will be a while coming) are depicted here:

North and South Work Platforms

Here is the south work platform:

South Work Platform

Here is the north work platform. Note the people for perspective. That is a 150 TON crane sitting on the platform!

North Work Platform

This post is a “work in progress.” I will be uploading more photos as the internet goddess allows.

South Platform, looking north

North Platform, looking South

This “box” is 50 feet by 50 feet. Inside you see a remotely operated excavator. It has the drill on, and the plan is to drill a number of 5 ft. square holes, to an unknown depth, which will then provide support columns to anchor the south end of the bridge. This 50×50 foot box will then be filed completely with 5 ft. of cement.

This is the head honcho on this project. Rock Knocker told me his name … but I failed to write it down.

Tomorrow, I will post some Cal-Trans photos of the slip out in 2000 which lead to this project. I am also searching for the rendering of the project, which I have seen, and participated in (along with the rock shed at Rain Rocks) as part of the Aesthetic and Design Committee.

January 28, 2010

January 5, 2010
Still flagging, but lights going in.

Moving the road closer to the mountain.

Pouring cement

December 18, 2009

Rain Rocks. I apologize for shooting through my cracked wind shield, but there is no where safe to stop along here.

Pitkins Curve, getting ready to move the roadway closer to the mountain.

And the long shot, the one I am most likely to be able to duplicate over the next 4 years.

December 6, 2009

14 Responses to “Rain Rocks/Pitkins Curve Project”

  1. Thanks for the great pictures, I haven’t been to this job site since Jan 2010 and was wondering what it looked like now. Go to my website link and I have two videos (redoing soundtrack on 3rd vid due to copyright issues) of driving to and from Pikins Curve. I changed jobs and won’t be driving a truck down there anymore, but one of my co workers from Graniterock wants me to make a run down there with him to video him driving to the site.

  2. Thanks for the info.

    I was up here three days ago, decided to take some photos and got a guided tour from a guy on-site.

    Got some OK snaps, if you want them for your website, let me know.

    I linked you site here to my pictures in case people wanted more info.

    Thanks again.

  3. Well, showing up as spam. If real, let me know

  4. bigsurkate,

    If the spam question is for me, I am really not spam.

    I don’t have a website per-se, but if you type my name into google and go to the first link, you see the pictures.

    Or go here to get into the center of the three Sur pictures.

    Rain Rocks/Pitkins Curve Project


  5. Well they might not need to finish that project now….

  6. I am the forman of the job have heli pics come see me there Simon with long hair

  7. Oh, cool. Will check it out.

  8. […] months at a time. Not only cutting off access for tourists, but isolating residents as well. (See Big Sur Kate’s blog for insight from a […]

  9. Drove through the rock shed on Aug 22 and it was beautiful. Also got some videos of whales cruising and jumping out of ocean while eating lunch at Gorda…

  10. How come pictures and comments of building beautiful bridge stopped ? Drove over it today……

  11. I took a road trip out to California in September, and drove through this marvelous thing…it was only one lane open, but the thing is just GORGEOUS. It looks “ancient”…such a wonderful design. I’d love to know how the different colors and textures on the outside faces of the structure were created….looks like ancient stonework, each stone a different color, and the texture of the outside finish is really just stunning to see. I’d love to find out more!

  12. b.b. There was an aesthetics and design committee made up of locals, including me, Cal-Trans engineers, architects, etc. that came up with the design in a series of collaborative meetings. One thing the locals insisted on was that is look “natural” and blend in with the surrounding mountain. I don’t remember whose idea was the arches. The artist from SF, I think she said, who developed the colors for the “rock.” I personally watched them paint and repaint it, at least 1/2 a dozen times! At one point, it looked really garish. Once it was the colors they wanted, individual rocks and all, they looked to use some kind of sealer. I have been invited to the ribbon cutting, as part of the design committee, I’ll see what I can find out. I agree, I think it is gorgeous. A friend sent me photos of rock sheds in Switzerland, and there are no aesthetics at all. I think this one will win world-wide renown for its beauty.

  13. My husband was the Civil Engineer who designed the Pitkins Curve Bridge. Our family had the pleasure of attending the Ribbon Cutting ceremony this month. A great experience for our children to see their dad’s project complete. So very proud.

  14. Went thru the bridge this year Beautiful!!!👍🏻👍🏻

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