MONTECITO, Calif. - Caltrans says the earliest Highway 101 will re-open to traffic is mid-day next Monday but that could be pushed back depending on a massive cleanup operation, damage repairs and safety checks.
Caltrans says crews are working around the clock to remove thousands of tons of mud, rock and debris as well as water along a stretch of Highway 101 between San Ysidro Road and Hot Springs Road in Montecito.
The highway was inundated by the deadly mud and debris flow Monday morning.
"Our crews are working hard, mobilizing basic cleanup, its a huge challenge, and then we're going to have to check for any damage", said Caltrans spokesperson Colin Jones, "we want to get the highway open as soon as safely possible."
Crews are working amid ongoing search, rescue and recovery operations for victims of the mudslide.
"It's 24-7, obviously most of the work is being done during the day but we're bringing lights in to get some overnight work done", Jones said, "we've got all of our contractors mobilized to help out, we've got the National Guard bringing in some extra equipment, so again its all resources focused in that area."
Once the highway is cleared the safety inspection process will also take time to complete.
"The railing along the side of the Olive Mill Road overpass above Highway 101 is completely washed away on one side", Jones said, "so we need to not only clean and clear the roadway but also repair any damage because we just cannot open it to public traffic unless its safe to travel."
Until Highway 101 re-opens to traffic the detour remains Interstate 5 between Ventura County and southern California and the Central Coast by way of Highway's 166 or 46.