Short cuts to disaster zone congestion add to more misery for Montecito area drivers

Leaving the freeway can be a waste of time

Short cuts aren't always working to avoid freeway congestion in the Montecito recovery zone. (John Palminteri/
MONTECITO, Calif. - Many changes are in the works to keep drivers in the Highway 101 traffic ties ups these days from veering into Santa Barbara and Montecito neighborhoods to find alternate routes.
  The commute from Santa Barbara to the south in the evening and the northbound grind in the morning, has been a grueling impact on drivers  since the January 9th disaster.  That has led to damaged roads and broken bridges in many locations.   It's been a rough option for drivers.
Frustrated with the congestion, even though the highway is fully open, commuters and local residents looking for alternate routes are now snarling the side streets.
For a local sixth grader on his bike  the increased traffic, and crowded lanes have created  many recent close calls.
Cassidy Ebbin stopped by a local pizza restaurant and said he has seen many close calls.  "A close call is when some car kind of swerves into you on accident,  I mean gets close and kind of scares you."
Many roadway options are being used and abused these days.

  On Olive Mill and Hot Springs traffic is painstakingly sorted out from three different directions with more stop than go.
On East Valley by San Ysidro creek there's only room for one lane of traffic at a time.  During the day this route lined with boulders from the disaster,  is a working construction zone with heavy equipment, dust and workers all over.
 It's not a smooth drive either way at any time.
To now manage the Coast Village Road backup where Santa Barbara meets Montecito, two new locations have temporary stop signs to make it less of a short cut for those skirting the freeway.
An orange barricade is in place where the inside parking lane has been a sneaky "end around play" for some commuters. 
   But not now.  
"I have noticed that there are people that are coming down to try to scoot around in there.  They have to go back to Coast Village Road.  I think it is working," said resident Kristine Sperling.
She has seen the risks.
"Oh yes, and very dangerous for pedestrians and cars that are parked. So it is nice that people are being directed off this part of the road."
  When it comes to a safety tip in an area where anxious and aggressive drivers have been in big numbers lately Ebbin, who won't be behind the wheel for several years says he would be better today than some of the drivers he sees.
He wants them to "be a little more respectful" to others in cars and on bikes in the area.
The impact zones from the mudflow are heavily patrolled by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department and the CHP.
For more information on the Coast Village Association go to:
For the City of Santa Barbara traffic engineering go to:

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