Highway 101 closure adds hours to drivers’ commutes

Posted at 8:03 PM, Jan 10, 2018

Highway 101 through Montecito will stay closed longer than expected. 

Besides taking out homes, the deadly slides wiped away the main road to and from LA. Wednesday evening, about 12 miles remained closed. 

Plans were in the works to get Highway 101 reopened on Thursday but Caltrans has since pushed that back to Monday, Jan. 15.

For the next five days you’ll have to use an alternate route. 

Highway 166 East is just one of the alternate routes you can take and all day on Wednesday it was extremely busy. 

On the flip side, 95,000 vehicles travel Highway 101 everyday according to Caltrans. Mother Nature however, forced what will be a week-long closure of the popular road. 

"Very unprecedented," said Colin Jones, Caltrans District 5 spokesperson. "You have sections where it’s one or two feet of debris on the roadway."

The highway closure starts at Milpas Street in Santa Barbara and ends at Highway 150 near Carpinteria. 

"I was hoping the 101 was going to be reopened," said Larry Strasbaugh who is traveling to Los Angeles. 

For now, drivers heading south can take Highway 46 or Highway 166 East to Interstate 5. 

Tim Bridwell was rerouted on his way to UCLA Medical Center. 

"I’m hoping it doesn’t take any more than about two hours," Bridwell said.

Many companies are now exploring other ways to move their products to the Central Coast. The produce section of Vons in Nipomo was bare. 

In a statement to KSBY, company representative, Jenna Watkinson said: "While there may have been brief delays, where necessary, our trucks have been rerouted to avoid road closures so that we are able to serve all residents in the impacted areas."

Caltrans crews are working around the clock. 

"Unfortunately, it is the lifeline from the Central Coast to Southern California," Jones continued. 

Clearing the road of mud and debris, getting storm drains unclogged and removing abandoned vehicles is underway. 

"It’s a massive clean up," Jones added. 

Caltrans says there could be even more damage they can’t see right now. 

"There could be pavement problems. Potholes. Guardrails knocked down. Signs. Striping," Jones concluded. 

Caltrans says the last time there was a road closure of this magnitude was back in January of 2005 during the La Conchita Flood. 

Drivers going North from LA should take Highway 126 to I-5. 

Caltrans has dozens of employees working to clear had road including some who have come up from LA.