Good news for road trip fans. An important stretch of California’s Highway 1, from Cambria to Carmel, has reopened after an 18-month closure. The famous section of the iconic coastal highway was buried under a huge mudslide in May 2017. After the mudslide, a California Department of Transportation spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times that nearly a third of a mile of Highway 1 was covered in rock and dirt, nearly 40 feet deep, and that the damage was “unprecedented.”

Wednesday’s reopening was long-awaited by locals and tourists alike. The best part? It happened two months ahead of schedule, and two days before the official ribbon cutting ceremony. Chamber President Mel McColloch, speaking to the Cambria Chamber of Commerce, said residents should be “prepared for an influx of tourists in the coming weeks.”

The Hearst Castle, an attraction along the road, is adding a number of tours in preparation for the increase in visitors. Dan Falat, a superintendent of the State Parks district that includes the castle, told The Tribune that his team has done extensive planning based on the “long-term perception that Highway 1 would reopen sometime soon.”

While everyone’s hoping Highway 1 remains open with no further interruption, the patterns of nature may suggest a different future. “This has sort of been the history of this coast from the beginning,” John Duffy, an engineering geologist in Pismo Beach, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s an emerging coastline geologically speaking, and it’s in a constant state of trying to come to some stability.” He added that the same geological features that make it beautiful also make it a difficult road to maintain.

For now, however, the long wait is over, and roadtrippers can hit the Pacific Coast.

H/T: Travel & Leisure

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