California Department of Transportation

Welcome to the Highway 1 Big Sur Coast Highway Management Plan

Highway 1 at Big SurBig Sur Coast Highway Management Plan logo


The Big Sur Coast in California is witness to some of the most dramatic meeting of land and sea anywhere in the world. Throughout the centuries and continuing today, people are drawn to this wild coast for what it represents. Read more about the history of the Big Sur coast. Highway 1 along the Big Sur Coast has become internationally renowned for the access it provides to this scenic and wondrous place. In recognition of this, the Federal Highway Administration designated Route 1 as an All-American Road under the National Scenic Byways program in 1996.

Not coincidentally, the drama evidenced by the landscape also creates the greatest challenges for maintaining a reliable roadway. This coast is best characterized by the emerging Santa Lucia Mountains which rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. Highway 1 clings to the side of steep slopes, traverses broad coastal terraces and spans deep canyons leading to the sea.

Prone to landsliding, Highway 1 undergoes continual repairs. With virtually no detours available, the highway is also a lifeline to communities and businesses. Over time, concerns over management practices highlighted the potential threats to the very qualities that define Big Sur. Increased pressures to maintain reliable access, combined with regulatory requirements and competing interests, have frustrated decision-making in response to highway-related repairs.

In an effort to be more proactive, the California Department of Transportation has initiated development of the Big Sur Coast Highway Management Plan (CHMP). The CHMP focuses on the coastal corridor between the Carmel River in Monterey County and San Carpoforo Creek in San Luis Obispo County (see map).

The CHMP aims to continue the safe and efficient operation of Highway 1 while ensuring the long-term preservation of the intrinsic qualities within the corridor. A stakeholder-based process seeks participation by diverse groups to achieve shared ownership in corridor management.

Last updated: July 24, 2007