SAN DIEGO — Seismologists from the Center for Science, Education and Investigation in Ensenada are warning about the likelihood of further landslides along Baja California’s coastal route south of the border.
The highway, popular with tourists from Southern California, offers spectacular views of the ocean and coastline as it winds down from Tijuana to the port of Ensenada, which is located about 87 miles south of San Diego.
During the last decade, it’s been plagued by landslides that have blocked and damaged the roadway.
In recent weeks, seismologists have uncovered sinkholes and cracks along the highway leading them to issue a warning to motorists. They are asking drivers to find alternate routes to Ensenada as a preventive measure.
The scientists say the road can’t sustain a lot of cars on the roadway since the vehicles generate vibrations that could trigger a major landslide and possible loss of life.
“This phenomenon hasn’t happened suddenly,” said Luis Mendoza Garcilazo, researcher with the CSEI. “In the event of seismic activity of 30 to 40 seconds, it could affect not just one lane of traffic, but several and we don’t know when it might take place.”
Mendoza Garcilazo said they have not been allowed to perform further studies on the roadway and is asking the agency that controls roads and bridges in Mexico to allow them to perform more extensive testing.
“An increase in traffic and weight on the roadway was never considered, many features have to be fixed especially things that weren’t done right in the first place — some of the foundations for portions of the roadway were not compacted properly and are prone to give way when the earth moves.”
The seismologist said on May 22, there was a meeting attended by members of government, academia and business owners but the agency in charge of the roadway declined to send a representative.
Mendoza Garcilazo says more field work along with engineering studies have been suggested as a way to figure out where to create a “bypass” and new junctions to get around areas of concern.