Crews start clearing rocks, debris covering portions of Highway 70

Local News

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — The latest storm has caused major headaches for people who rely on Highway 70 in Butte and Plumas counties.

Heavy rain has forced large rocks down the slope and onto Highway 70 — and it’s not stopping. Crews on Monday were busy cleaning up smaller rockslides and debris flow caused by the massive storm.

“We just had more debris come down,” said Mario Montalvo, a spokesperson for Caltrans. “Some are smaller, some are bigger.”

A rock and mudslide near the Feather River Canyon, just north of the town of Pulga, was just one example of the damage caused by the storm.

“We don’t know what is under there yet, so there is no way to assess what the actual physical damage to the road is,” Montalvo said.

The area has been scarred by wildfires. The Dixie Fire this year and the Bear Fire from 2020 have left the area charred in places.

But Caltrans believes the rockslide wasn’t caused by the burn scar but instead by the excessive rain the area received.

“This area, in particular, received more significant rainfall than other areas,” Montalvo said.

As water continues to run through the rocks, officials fear more rockslides could happen, which is why they are being cautious with the cleanup efforts.

For many communities, the road is their lifeblood. Michael Ramirez said it could add a few hours to his commute if the highway remains closed.

“It’s a real important road,” Ramirez said. “We actually have to get to work to be able to feed our families. Times like this with all the catastrophic it’s important to have the main streets open and, hopefully, we get it reopened soon.”

Caltrans said they are working with a contractor, and the hope is they can start clearing the rocks on Tuesday.

When the highway will reopen remains up in the air.

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