Dump truck drivers help Caltrans crews dig out US 101 in Montecito

Caltran sets goal to reopen freeway next week

Dozens of dump trucks haul tons of...

MONTECITO, Calif. - The beeping sound people hear when trucks back up is piercing in Montecito all day and all night. Dump trucks are backing up to allow excavators to fill them each up with several tons of mud.

About 70 trucks are in a rotation carrying tons of mud away.

The work is being done on the south and northbound sides of U.S. 101 below the Olive Mill Road bridge.

The mudslide was caused by a once in every 200-year flood in the wake of the largest wildfire in state history, according to officials.

The Thomas Fire that started Dec.4, in Santa Paula will forever be linked to the devastation.

Caltrans Public Information Officer Jim Shivers was supposed to have a day off from work on the Martin Luther King holiday, Monday, but he spent the day fielding questions about the freeway's chances of reopening.

"We have made tremendous progress in the past 48 hours removing solid debris from U.S. 101 at the Olive Mill location, we feel very good about the progress which has led us to the announcement of a full reopening next week," said Shivers.

Caltrans crews and countless of contractors are working 12-hour shifts to get the job done.

Residents may not be able to see it in person, but they can hear the noisy work being done and they appreciate the people who are a long way from their own homes, working on their behalf.

Colleen McGonigal and her daughter Mila called it "humbling." They are filled with emotions following the loss of 20 confirmed community members.

It's likely to be a long road toward healing, even after Highway 101 reopens.

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