Big Sur bridge survives 6,000lb wrecking ball

Bethany Minelle, News Reporter

The Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, closed last month after heavy storms, has been given a stay of execution after demolition attempts proved unsuccessful.

The 6,000lb wrecking ball bought in to destroy the bridge on the picturesque Highway 1 was unable to make a substantial impact on the concrete overpass.

The closure of the bridge has left the Big Sur region cut off from California, with over 400 residents stranded on one side.

Part of the popular tourist region - which is full of exclusive hotels and luxury spas - can now only be accessed by a steep footpath which is open just three times a day.

The area is also without law enforcement and public services, including schools and medical centres.

Part of Highway 1 has also been closed and helicopters are being used to drop in food supplies.

A spokesman for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), who described the demolition ball as "gently tapping the deck of the bridge", said they are now looking into different ways to harness more power.

Declared as "damaged beyond repair" in mid-February following heavy rain, the structure's now crumbling columns moved seven inches in just a few days during the course of the winter storms.

The rebuild has been temporarily suspended, but once restarted is expected to take up to a year to complete and cost between $20m and $30m (£16m and £25m).

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