Highway 41 above Fish Camp, shortly south of Yosemite National Park, was completely closed Tuesday after Caltrans crews noticed a portion of the road begin to sink due to a powerful hailstorm, spokesman Cory Burkarth said, and the road will be closed at least through the end of this week and into next week.
As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Burkarth said the hole in the road has spread to the center lane, and the road is closed to all traffic north of Fish Camp, including park employees and emergency vehicles.
“We understand this is a big inconvenience to traffic in the area but when it comes down to a life or death situation, this was an easy decision to make,” Burkarth said. “The roadway is failing due to large amounts of rushing water under the road. It is currently not safe for vehicle traffic.”
Burkarth said the wash out in the road was filled last week, but the recent storms washed away all the material that was used to fill the hole.
Burkarth said a reopening date is hard to say at this time.
“We can’t repair the road until conditions allow for the repair work to be done safely,” Burkarth said. “As long as the water continues to flow under the road at the rate it is currently, it will continue to wash away the base rock we fill the hole with.”
For those planning to visit Yosemite, the suggested detour is to take Highway 49 to Highway 140 in Mariposa. The road is open to the Tenaya Lodge and Fish Camp.
Burkarth said the closure was a result of continued issues with the southbound shoulder of the highway in the area of the Summerdale Campground, after a hole opened up earlier this month as a result of being washed out due to ongoing winter storms.
Since that time, one-way traffic controls were in place 24 hours a day, Burkarth said, and the decision to fully close the highway was made out of a concern for public safety.
“In the interest of public safety and to ensure we can safely monitor that section of roadway, we decided it needed to be closed immediately,” Burkarth said. “We have a full team of maintenance and construction staff working diligently on this section of roadway to determine when we’ll be able to reopen it.”