Confusion Hill Slide Area
The slide area on Highway 101 at Confusion Hill has been a problem for years, and Caltrans has proposed a fix. This enormous project will require construction of temporary access structures, two new bridges, excavation and removal of more than 300,000 cubic meters of the mountain, and the eventual relocation of the highway to the other side of the South Fork Eel River. Money has been made available to construct this bypass and environmental concerns have been addressed, but the project will likely not be completed until 2009 at the earliest.
In the past two decades, falling rocks and mudslides often shut down traffic multiple times a year; in the 2002/2003 winter season, Confusion Hill closed 10 times. Caltrans estimates that a catastrophic landslide at Confusion Hill would close US-101 in both directions for an extended period of time, perhaps up to a year. The increased costs to diverted traffic are estimated at over a quarter million dollars per day in travel delay and added vehicle operating costs.
Over $4 million in emergency work has been conducted in the area to keep the highway road open. It is the only link to the south; when closed, vehicles are required to backtrack to an open highway, a 450-mile detour if you are unfortunate enough to be on the north side.