Miles of work underway to fix mud damaged Highway 101

Several locations have been battered in Montecito

CalTrans workers have come into Montecito for repairs on several sections of the freeway after a recent damaging mudflow. (John Palminteri/KEYT photo)

MONTECITO, Calif. - Multiple CalTrans crews from out of the immediate area have come into Santa Barbara County to expedite repairs on storm damaged U.S. Highway 101  in Montecito and Santa Barbara.

They are trying to meet a Monday goal announced earlier this week.

In recent days much of the focus has been on a specific section where it crosses under Olive Mill Road.  Some portions of freeway there had eight feet of mud and clogged drains.

Nearby to the east, there are several other areas where damage is widespread and repairs are time consuming.  Work crews have been tackling a long list of projects for days.

Specifically, the ferocious debris filled waters broke through fences,  ripped guardrails apart and filled culverts with boulders, tree limbs and brown water full of silt and ash.

The problem areas have been where the junction of three creeks meet the freeway at North Jameson Lane.  

Oak Creek has a combination of broken wooden rails on its bridge and thick mud in a culvert that goes under the freeway. Earth moving equipment has been digging in to eventually punch a hole in the site   Water can then flow to the ocean without restrictions.

Similar work is also taking place where San Ysidro and Romero creeks meet the freeway.

All of the locations were hard hit, and in some locations vehicles were crushed at those locations and eventually made it to the beach.

The California Highway Patrol is staffing roadblocks in the area to make sure evacuated residents or anyone else stays out until  workers are done.  

One resident said he lived outside of the evacuation area but unable to easily go to his home without having his identification verified, but he appreciated the secure plan for the streets with empty homes.

Jim Carbone was only able to come and go from the west because of the road closures.

Another driver said his vehicle's navigation system directed him to Summerland even though he was unable to drive any further on the freeway.  To get there he had to pass several electronic signs alerting drivers about the road closure in Montecito.  The CHP then gave instructions to go back to Ventura County and over to Interstate 5 heading north. 

One officer had directions on a piece of paper and asked drivers or their passengers take a picture of it so they knew the route.  A line of cars was consistently cueing up on Lillie Avenue at the road block throughout the evening.

The owner of a nearby business was surprised at the constant stream of cars and drivers who were being turned around after apparently ignoring prior advisories about the blockage.



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