BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Highway 178 through Kern River Canyon will remain closed through the weekend, due to concerns about the roadway's stability following mud and rock slides, a Caltrans official said late Wednesday afternoon.
Earlier in the day, a spokesman had refused to rule out a chance that the highway -- the main and fastest route from Bakersfield to the Kern River Valley -- could reopen by the end of the day Thursday.
However, ongoing uncertainty about the condition of the highway shoulder and hillsides above, damaged by punishing rains Sunday and Monday, has made that impossible.
"Our guys saw that the hillsides on the river side were saturated. They said, 'We don't want anything shaking loose during the clean-up,'" said Caltrans spokesman Jose Camarena. "We're looking at a closure through the weekend now. At least Sunday, unless tomorrow morning, our geologist gives us some other news."
A Caltrans geologist from Sacramento arrived in Kern River Canyon Wednesday afternoon, joining crews from Granite Construction Company which have worked around-the-clock since Tuesday afternoon clearing the highway.