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Noozhawk Asks: Information + Inspiration for Santa Barbara County

Noozhawk Asks: Where Is Windy Gap on Highway 154?

Windy Gap is a frequent point of reference in Highway 154 crash stories, but the location is a mystery to many readers.

 

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Question: Where exactly is Windy Gap on Highway 154?
— Multiple readers have asked about this

You won’t find Windy Gap on a map, but it’s a common term used by Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol and law enforcement personnel for a particular stretch of Highway 154 above Santa Barbara.

A crane gets set to haul up a pickup truck that plunged over the side of Highway 154 at Windy Gap on Aug. 6. Click to view larger
A crane gets set to haul up a pickup truck that plunged over the side of Highway 154 at Windy Gap on Aug. 6. (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)

The highway curves its way over and through the Santa Ynez Mountains to connect the South Coast and the Santa Ynez Valley.

It’s notorious for over-the-side vehicle crashes and head-on collisions, and many of them are reported at Windy Gap.

The latest incident occurred Aug. 6 when a truck plunged 300 feet down the mountainside, severely injuring both the driver and passenger.t The driver was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

The Windy Gap section is east of Painted Cave Road, on the Santa Barbara side, where the highway is cut between two distinctive rock formations, Caltrans spokesman Colin Jones told Noozhawk.

“It doesn’t show up on Google Maps, but we and the CHP use the term frequently,” he said in an email.

Some locals may identify it differently.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason, a longtime local and photojournalist, said the easiest way to describe Windy gap is between North San Marcos Road on the west and San Antonio Road on the east.

The more local way to describe it is west of the power lines and east of the 35 mph curve, he said.

As a bonus, the “hot-shot local” way to describe it is Highway 154 just east of Arnoldi curve, Eliason added.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

The stretch of Highway 154 between North San Marcos and San Antonio roads is known as Windy Gap. Click to view larger
The stretch of Highway 154 between North San Marcos and San Antonio roads is known as Windy Gap. (Google Maps illustration)
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Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

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