Jan 28, 2010 12:57 PM by Ariel Wesler

Storm damage closes Highway 135

A local highway is closed tonight after last week's heavy rains caused it to collapse.

The northbound side of Highway 135 is closed. The damage is just south of the junction of Highway 1 and Highway 135 near Orcutt.

Caltrans says when we see this much rain, road damage is inevitable. Engineers are now working as quickly as possible to reopen the highway.

It's no earthquake. Last week's storms caused this damage. Caltrans officials say a drainage pipe beneath Highway 135 collapsed causing the road to follow suit. Workers were out surveying the damage--from cracks to complete breaks.

"Everything is expedited. We expect the materials to arrive this week to start the rebuilding," said Jim Shivers, a spokesman for Caltrans.

Caltrans says it was able to close off this highway at the first sign of sinking before the damage got that bad. Thankfully, no one was injured.

Meanwhile, those traveling to Santa Maria from Los Alamos or Lompoc are advised to take an alternate route, or a seven mile detour from Highway 135. It starts at San Antonio Road and connects to Highway 1--that is if you can find it.

"We've heard of some instances of people trying to drive around the closure signs. We've also had some stories of people trying to drive northbound in the southbound lanes of traffic," Shivers said.

Like this driver I caught first hand. She told me she became confused and headed in the wrong direction.

"A worker said I'm going the wrong way, to turn around. I said 'Where do I go?' It should be more plain. . .someone's going to get into an accident," said Josefa Grossi of Lompoc.

But Caltrans has posted large "Do not enter" signs as well as detour signs. Highway 135 is expected to re-open in two to three weeks.

Caltrans doesn't have an estimate yet on how much it will cost to repair the highway.

A spokesperson says he believes this is the first time that portion of road has collapsed.

We also checked in with city officials in Santa Maria. They say no major road damage has been reported and all roads have re-opened.


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