SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - [Updated Jan. 21, 2018 at 12:20 p.m.]
For the first time since the devastating mudslides, Highway 101 is again open for traffic between Santa Barbara and Carpinteria. Engineers from Caltrans were anticipating the opening by the morning commute on Monday. The early opening follows weeks of work to clean up from the millions of tons of mud that closed the freeway at the Olive Mill Road interchange in Montecito.
Caltrans cautions some on- and off-ramps will remain closed because police and fire units are still restricting access.
Whether you are commuting to work or trying to get home, the U.S. 101 closure is forcing nearly everyone to take quite a long detour.
NewsChannel 3 sent reporter Alex Biston on a road trip Wednesday morning to document the lengthy journey from Ventura County to Santa Barbara.
She took three extra freeways to get around the closure including Highway 126, Interstate 5 and Highway 166 to get back on Highway 101.
After a stop off of Highway 166, some drivers shared their frustrations.
“You can’t do anything about it,” said commuter Mike Cook. “Nature says I’m closing this road and it’s closed. There is nothing you can do except clear it and I think they are doing a good job.”
Francisco Sioida was trying to drive home to Santa Barbara and says the detour is causing a major headache.
“People have to go to work,” said Sioida. “People have to drive around and take the bus and train, it's crazy.”
While commuters have a longer route to take, some in the small town of New Cuyama say they are feeling the impact.
“There is constant traffic both directions. The locals are having a hard time getting off and on the highway,” said New Cuyama resident Vivian Vickery. “Most people are waiting until the highway opens again over on 101 before they make trips out of town.”
The trip was completed in 6 hours and took approximately 276 miles.
For a full list of detour routes, click here.