SAN DIEGO - Traffic between San Diego and Ensenada was detoured away from the southern end of the Baja California toll road Sunday, because a chunk of it collapsed towards the ocean following a series of small earthquakes and recent heavy rainfall.
The collapse occurred at the Salsipuedes stretch of highway about 10 miles north of Ensenada.
The stretch of highway was reportedly fractured and sinking following a 4.6 magnitude quake Dec. 19, although it had not been confirmed that that quake caused the collapse, according to U-T San Diego. Parts of the scenic highway collapsed 300 feet toward the sea.
No one was injured. The road had been undergoing a retrofit, and for years has been considered unstable.
Local geologist Dr. Pat Abbott says it was only a matter of time.
"The basic cause of this is just this: any forces, be it plate tectonics, a fault, what have you, anything that lifts up landscape, gravity is determined to pull it down and it works every minute of every day of every year until it succeeds," said Abbott.
The concern is that the hillside is not done slipping and repairs are not expected to get underway until after the rainy season.
Early estimates say it would take at least a year to fix, which could be damaging to the economy there.
"My biggest concern is that people are canceling their reservations because they're getting information that the toll road is closed, therefore they think that they cannot get there,” said Jean-Loup Bitterlin, the president of the hotel association in Ensenada.
Bittlerlin says the slide has been occurring for months now and says he wants to make travelers aware that there are several alternate routes to get in and out of Ensenada that will tack on very little travel time.
The toll road, known as Highway 1-D, is closed from the La Mision toll gates to the San Miguel toll gates. Coastal traffic was detoured on the old free highway, Mexico 1.
The closure was atop a cliff that drops several hundred feet into the Pacific Ocean, just south of the Costa Azul LNG station, owned by San Diego's Sempra Energy. The plant was apparently not affected.
The closure was beyond Rosarito Beach, Puerto Nuevo and other popular tourist attractions near San Diego.
Drivers could still get from San Diego to Ensenada via California 94 to Tecate and then south on Mexico 3.