Caltrans: Mudslides to keep drivers off Hwy 178 'indefinitely'

Caltrans: Mudslides to keep drivers off Hwy 178 'indefinitely' »Play Video
Mud and rock are covering Highway 178 near the mouth of the Kern River Canyon, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, two days after rains caused mudslides that closed the highway. (KBAK/KBFX photo/Anthony Bailey)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A pair of mudslides will keep Highway 178 through the Kern River Canyon closed "indefinitely," a Caltrans official said Wednesday.

Monday night's heavy rain caused rocks and mud to spill onto the highway, the main route from Bakersfield to the Kern River Valley. Caltrans recommended commuters take the alternate route of Highway 65 north to Highway 155 east or Highway 58 east to Highway 14 north to Hwy. 178 south.

The rain helped crews battling lightning-caused wildfires in the vicinity but created a big travel headache for many in Kern County following the mudslides - one near the mouth of the canyon and one near Bodfish.

Caltrans said it needs to rebuild parts of the road after the debris is cleared, including highway foundation, pavement and guardrails.

The aim is to get one lane open within a week or two, using traffic controllers on each end to alternate drivers from each direction, Caltrans said.