Fallen rocks along Highway 41 in eastern Madera County closed the roadway Wednesday, and the risk of more rock slides will keep it closed for the time being, according to Caltrans.
Caltrans had originally reported that the roadway could be reopened as early as Thursday morning but later said the road would remain closed indefinitely.
After initially only restricting the highway to one-way traffic, Elizabeth Yelton, spokesperson for Caltrans, said the decision to fully close the highway from Highway 145 and Road 200 was a “safety-concern decision” based on the history of the area. Yelton referenced a rock slide from three years ago that was even larger.
“I know it’s inconvenient, we understand that, but we definitely want our motorist and our citizens to be safe when traveling through here,” Yelton said.
Yelton said a geologist was on the way to assess the area and help their team determine the next course of action.
“To the untrained eye, it is difficult to decide what’s stable and what isn’t, so we are hoping the geologist can help us with that,” said Caltrans District 6 maintenance superintendent Tim McClurg. “We will determine the scope of work based on their assessment.”
McClurg said any rain could also exacerbate the possibility of more rock slides. According to the National Weather Service, eastern Madera County was expected to receive between a tenth and a quarter of an inch of rainfall Thursday night.
Caltrans is allowing residents that live between Highway 145 and Rocky Cut through the closure. McClurg said they are relying on an honor system for drivers claiming to live in the area, not requiring any proof of residency.
Detours are available for those who travel along the closed portion of the highway:
Northbound: Head north on Highway 41 to Road 145 (East) to Road 211 (North) to Road 200 (West) back to Highway 41.
Southbound: Head south on Highway 41 to Road 200 (East) to Road 211 (South) to Road 145 (West) back to Highway 41.