FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KSEE) – This winter storm has brought lots of rain and snow to the Central Valley, and while the state needs it, it makes our roadways even more dangerous.
On Highway 168 towards Shaver Lake, the four-lane is closed, with no reopening in sight yet. Auberry Rd. is now closing tonight and will remained closed until Tuesday morning. Caltrans is working with California Highway Patrol and the Fresno County Public Works to keep people clear of the rockslide area, with more of the storm on the way.
Our crew was given an escort past the roadblock at Highway 168 and Lodge Rd. to see the rockslide blocking the four lanes firsthand. About a mile up the road, that rockslide is still there.
The rocks from the mountainside are still unstable right now. Caltrans crews tell us, they’re waiting for a geologists to come out here and make sure it’s safe so more crews can come out and clear the rocks from the rockslide.
“Fresno County has been preparing really the last two weeks prior to this current series of rain that we’re having,” said Nathan Magsig, Fresno County Board of Supervisors District 5.
The rockslide happened in the center of Magsig’s district.
“There is more rain that is coming. If you don’t need to be traveling up in the mountain areas, I would probably tell folks to just stay home,” he said.
He’s seen the work Fresno County and Caltrans crews have been doing in the foothill communities where these rockslides and mudslides hit the hardest. Magsig shared photos of crews clearing large boulders from a county road last week.
Fresno County public works crews were out there Monday adhering warnings to drivers. Mudslides and debris flows were still visible in the Creek Fire burn scar.
“What you have left is soils that really are unstable. So, as we have rain that falls on these areas and they become completely saturated, pretty soon you can have the problem of mudslides,” said Magsig.
Mudslides can lead to more closures and more dangerous road conditions. Tollhouse Rd. is now the only alternative to get around the rockslide on Highway 168.
Public Works says they will have maintenance crews working all night on Tollhouse Rd. keeping it as hazard-free as possible.