Highway 168 remains closed due to rockslide

FRESNO, Calif.

At this point, Caltrans officials estimate the repairs will cost a half a million dollars and could take up to three weeks. But, those numbers could rise, if rocks continue to tumble down the hill.

Tuesday morning, Caltrans workers, and a team of specialized contractors hiked up the side of this hill, to examine the extent of this massive rockslide.

Jose Camarena with Caltrans said, "That is part of the initial evaluation is really to try to get an assessment of the damage we can't see and anything that might be coming down here in the next few days or the next few weeks."

The main concern right now is still a large boulder. Workers aren't sure how much weight is pressing against it. But, what they do know is that the rocks surrounding it are so brittle, you can literally break them with your bare hands.

Jose Camarena with Caltrans said, "For the overall safety of everybody involved, as well as the general commuter traffic, we want to make sure that everything is a stable as possible before we open the roadway to traffic."

Caltrans officials estimate it will be at least two weeks until cars can pass through here, but a total of three weeks until the project is complete.

Right now, drivers heading up towards Shaver are being told to take Auberry Road instead. Local residents say the detour will add another 15 minutes to your commute. Evelyn Sanders of Prather said, "Just a little more traffic, and that's about it. Not a big impact."

Though the added time may be an inconvenience for some, nearby businesses aren't complaining. Since the road closure, Stores and Restaurants in both Auberry and Prather have reported a slight boost in sales.

Carol Roberson, who works in Prather said, "More traffic, more people coming through, more skiers."

China Peak ski resort reported normal crowds Tuesday. As for the rockslide, another concern is visible cracks in the hillside.

Caltrans hired a Southern California construction crew who specializes in disaster projects. Some of the work could start Wednesday.

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