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Ways to get around the Highway 101 closure

Charlie Guese

Original story here

Caltrans says that Highway 101 will be closed between Santa Barbara and Ventura indefinitely, making travel difficult for many people. Approximately 95,000 cars pass through this section of the busy freeway on a normal day, so the closure is forcing people to look for other ways to get around. Here are some ways to get around the closure by car, train, ferry or plane.

It is an important reminder that drivers cannot currently get around the closure by taking Highway 192 or other side streets through Montecito. The area is not only still under a mandatory evacuation warning, but more than 2,000 personnel are also still searching for survivors and victims while the cleanup efforts could take months.


  • Highway 46 to Interstate 5: Drivers can take Highway 46 east from Paso Robles to meet up with Interstate 5 southbound in the Central Valley. While Highway 46 is a two-lane road for most of this route, it follows a mostly straight path and is an easier drive than other alternatives.
    • Drive time from downtown Santa Barbara to downtown Los Angeles in light traffic: approximately 5 hours 9 minutes, according to Google Maps.
  • Highway 166 to Interstate 5: Caltrans initially recommended using Highway 166 from Santa Maria east to meet up with Interstate 5 north of the Grapevine, and many drivers may still be tempted to use the relatively shorter detour. However, the influx of traffic and drivers who are unfamiliar with the territory has made this route much more precarious. Highway 166 slows as it winds through the Sierra Madre Mountains and is even slower with more drivers. At least one driver had to be taken to the hospital by helicopter following a crash involving a semi truck on Thursday night.
    • Drive time from downtown Santa Barbara to downtown Los Angeles in light traffic: approximately 4 hours 15 minutes, according to Google Maps.
  • Highway 58 to Interstate 5: This route is possible, though it has not been one that Caltrans has suggested. Highway 58 from Santa Margarita to the Carrizo Plain is also a precipitous drive. Much of it is closed to truck traffic.
    • Drive time from downtown Santa Barbara to downtown Los Angeles in light traffic: approximately 5 hours 35 minutes, according to Google Maps.
  • Check Caltrans' website for new information.


  • Amtrak: Amtrak was able to clear tracks and resume service somewhat quickly. Pacific Surfliner and Coast Starlight trains are back to normal schedules as of Thursday. Trains are running at reduced speeds in some areas, so minor delays can happen. Check the Pacific Surfliner Twitter for updates. Amtrak is reporting much higher passenger loads on trains and is planning to add more train cars when possible.
    • Train travel time from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles Union Station: 2 hours 46 minutes.
    • Cost: one-way value adult tickets for next-day travel cost $31, according to Amtrak's website
  • Amtrak bus service is suspended between Santa Barbara and Oxnard.


  • Island Packers and Condor Express: The two ferry companies are cooperating to offer additional service between Santa Barbara Harbor and Ventura Harbor during the Highway 101 closure.
    • Ferry travel time: approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. The boats make 3-4 roundtrips everyday through at least Monday.
    • Cost: $32 one way. Tickets can be booked both ways from the Island Packers and Condor Express websites.


  • Commercial aviation: Santa Barbara Airport has been running under normal operations ever since the catastrophe. United Express flies between SBA and LAX each way three times a day on weekends and four times a day during the week. Book travel on the United website.
    • Flying travel time: 1 hour 5 minutes.
    • Cost: as of Saturday afternoon, tickets for Sunday nonstop travel cost $220 one way.