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Local News

Tepusquet Road Closed to Non-Local Drivers to Stop Detours

Drivers misguided by smartphone mapping apps have prompted authorities to close Tepusquet Road to all non-local traffic to discourage people from using the narrow, curvy route to access Highway 166 as a detour due to Highway 101’s closure.

The disaster in Montecito has led to several South Coast roads closures, including Highway 101 between south Santa Barbara and Carpinteria, and one business has offered to help residents needing to get to Los Angeles International Airport.

On Thursday morning, Santa Barbara County Public Works officials announced the partial closure of Tepusquet Road between Santa Maria Mesa Road and Highway 166. 

Public Works representatives said the roadway had been shut down to through traffic “to minimize the volume of GPS directed motorists unfamiliar with local conditions to use as a shortcut to and from Highway 166.”

With Highway 101 closed for northbound and southbound traffic in Montecito, drivers have been directed to Highway 166 to reach Interstate 5 to travel to Southern California.

Tepusquet Road sits in the heart of last summer’s Alamo Fire zone, and had it own mudslide after Tuesday’s rainstorm.

The Alamo Fire sparked July 6 off Highway 166 and quickly consumed 28,687 acres. The cause remains under investigation, Cal Fire officials said.

Residents reported mud between 2 inches and 2 feet across slid into the narrow road after heavy rains hit the area months after flames raced through drought-starved vegetation.

County crews quickly cleaned up the muck, although the road reportedly remained slippery.

Road closures related to the flooding and mud in Montecito have led to confusion for smartphone app users relying on the technology that did not reveal the true status of the streets, although Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol have issued regular updates.

The CHP reminded drivers Thursday night that northbound Highway 101 remains closed at Highway 150, while southbound lanes are closed at Milpas Street. A number of onramps also are closed. 

Highway 192 (East Valley Road) at Ortega Drive, Sheffield Drive and San Ysidro Road, Hot Springs Road, Lower Toro Canyon, Sycamore Canyon Road also are closed. 

Surface street closures include:

» Santa Claus Lane at North Padaro Lane. 

» Sheffield Drive at Ortega Hill Road.

» San Ysidro Road at North Jameson Lane.

» Olive Mill Road at North Jameson Lane.

» Olive Mill Road at Virginia Road.

» Olive Mill Road at San Benito Way. 

» Hot Springs Road at Oak Road

» Hot Springs Road at Coast Village (roundabout)

» Hot Springs at Middle Road.

Caltrans representatives have said Highway 101 between south Santa Barbara and Carpinteria  likely won’t reopen until mid-day Monday at the earliest. The CHP said it was hopeful the northbound lanes could be opened to Summerland sooner.

Recognizing the lengthy closure, Santa Barbara Airbus announced the shuttle service to LAX will use a modified schedule to assist travelers.

The firm operates five large 56-passenger coaches with daily departures from the Goleta headquarters at 750 Technology Drive with free parking available. 

The first shuttle departs at 3:30 a.m. and the final trip at 4 p.m. The adjusted schedule also shifts LAX pickup times to begin at 11 a.m. with a final pickup at 10 p.m. The modified route using Interstate 5 and Highway 166 takes approximately five hours.

“Our goal is to continue to offer transportation for travelers to and from Santa Barbara and the Los Angeles Airport despite the 101 being closed to through traffic,” said Eric Onnen, Santa Barbara Airbus co-founder and CEO.

“While it is costing us a lot more to run this modified schedule, we are not passing on any additional costs to our customers who need us or can’t afford another option. This special route may take longer yet the cost, dependability and customer service remains the same.”

The modified schedule will remain in effect until Highway 101 reopens, Airbus officials said. For complete details, updates and to make reservations, passengers can click here or call 805.964.7759 or toll-free 1.800.423.1618.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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.

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