Baja Toll Road Collapses

Earthquake destroys part of Baja toll road popular with surfers

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Part of the collapsed toll road. The driver of that truck managed to abandon ship. Photo: Proteccion Civil Baja California

Planning a surf trip to Baja this winter? If you’re driving at least as far south as San Miguel, you’re going to want to rethink your route. On December 28th, just a few days after a 4.6-magnitude earthquake rattled Northern Baja, a 900-foot section of Highway 1D, the toll road that zips travelers a bit faster from Tijuana to Ensenada, collapsed just south of Salsipuedes, in some cases crumbling to the sea over 300 feet below. No injuries were reported.

Local officials are concerned that section of the cliffside isn’t necessarily stable yet, and that more tremors will further dislodge the wrecked highway. To buy some time, they’ll wait until after the rainy season to begin any repairs, meaning that the earliest the road could possibly open would be sometime this summer. There are of course alternate routes, which authorities—no doubt desperate to keep the impact to Ensenada’s tourism industry at a minimum—say won’t add much time for travelers. But anybody familiar with driving in Baja knows that there’s reason to be wary of those statements. The most direct route is to use the old, free Highway 1 which juts a bit inland from the toll road, but is two-lanes as opposed to four and will now be forced to handle the traffic from both highway sections. 

“It’s going to take a lot of patience,” Keith Rolle, founder of a Baja language school and frequent Ensenada traveler told NBC-7 San Diego. “These trucks are going to really clog that one and only artery between Tijuana and Ensenada, and it’s going to be tough sledding.”