FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – It’s been four days since the rockslide that forced the closure of Highway 168 came down.
Tuesday, Caltrans crews were at the sight of the rockslide, scaling the mountain, trying to find out when the highway could be reopened.
Caltrans rock scalers anchored themselves to a giant pine tree at the top of the hill, and while scaling down, used pickaxes and pry bars to get rid of any loose rocks, that could fall on the highway below.
“We had our geologists come out just to confirm the integrity of the mountainside,” Caltrans District 6 Chief PIO, Tami Cox, says there were three geologists at the rockslide sight Tuesday afternoon.
While the rock scalers also get rid of any loose rocks, they also study the cliffside to see if it is stable enough for other operations.
“There are some pretty large boulders, I mean it will take probably blasting to get some of those broken up and to get them removed,” she said.
Not too far from the rockslide, a washout caused a portion of Auberry Rd. to close.
According to Fresno County officials, the damage is so extensive, the road could be closed for up to two weeks.
With two of the three routes to Shaver Lake and China Peak closed, it leaves the co-owner of Hungry Hut in Shaver Lake, Mila Strzelczyk-Flynn with sales that are also sliding.
Compared to the week before the closures, she’s lost more than half of her normal business this week.
“But I want to say probably went down 50-60 percent? Definitely, yes,” said Strzelczyk-Flynn.
Despite the loss in business, she and her husband want the roads reopened again, but safely.
“It is what it is right now, nothing can fight nature,” she said.
The only route open to get to Shaver Lake, Huntington Lake, or China Peak right now is Tollhouse Rd.
Caltrans warned drivers if you can reschedule plans, or do not have to go to the mountains while these closures are in place, don’t.