101 Freeway Could Reopen on Jan. 22

A crowd of passengers awaits a Tuesday morning Pacific Surfliner train at the Ventura Amtrak station on Jan. 16. The Surfliner is now the most direct means of travel between Ventura and Santa Barbara.

The 101 Freeway between Ventura and Santa Barbara is expected to be closed for at least another week, Caltrans reported Monday.

The coastal highway has been closed since devastating flooding and mudslides in the Montecito area blocked all lanes of the roadway Tuesday, Jan. 9, but the road may reopen next Monday, Jan. 22, according to information provided to The Los Angeles Times. There is no guarantee the highway will be ready to open on that date.

“We’ve made tremendous progress over the last 48 hours,” Jim Shivers, a spokesman for the California Department of Transportation, told the LA Times Monday. 

The original estimate for the closure had lanes reopening today, though by Friday Caltrans revised its prediction based on the difficulty of clearing water, mud and debris from the roadway. The closure currently is in effect from the Ventura/Santa Barbara County Line to South Milpas Street in Santa Barbara, according to Caltrans info.

During the closure, Amtrak has added railcars to each of its 10 daily Pacific Surfliner trains serving Santa Barbara County, beginning Sunday, Jan. 14. That addition is expected to provide more than 2,000 additional seats “to help accommodate increased travel demand due to the continued closure of Highway 101 following devastating mudslides near Montecito last week,” an Amtrak statement reads.

In addition to rail service, commuters between Ventura and Santa Barbara have the option to take one of two ferry services between the cities’ harbors or take a four- to five-hour detour on Interstate 5. 

Shivers detailed the difficulty of clearing debris from the 101 Freeway when he spoke to the LA Times. That includes issues of pumping water as well as removing tree trunks, abandoned vehicles and tractor trailers, and then checking pavement and overpasses for safety, reinstalling signs and guardrails and repainting lines.