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101 Freeway near Santa Barbara reopened, but local beaches remain closed to swimming

101 Freeway near Santa Barbara reopened, but local beaches remain closed to swimming
Crews work last week to clean up mud and debris on the 101 Freeway in Montecito. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The stretch of the 101 Freeway between Carpinteria and Santa Barbara that has been closed for two weeks reopened Sunday, Caltrans announced on its Twitter feed. Massive debris from deadly mudslides that flooded the roadway is in the final phases of being cleared.

Caltrans The California Department of Transportation would not say exactly when the freeway segment would reopen but advised drivers to stay tuned to its Twitter account, @CaltransD5, for updates (@CaltransD5).

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The closure had turned the 87-mile trip from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Barbara into a detour on the 5 Freeway and Highway 166 that takes three times as long.

Meanwhile, many local and state beaches remain closed to swimming and surfing because of high bacterial counts related to the early January storm and dumping of sediment from the freeway.

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Santa Barbara County's Public Health Department on Saturday warned the public to respect the buffer zone on beaches because of "unknown amounts of untreated sewage and possible chemical contaminants in the water and sand."

Emergency permits allowed federal and state agencies to dump sediment at places such as Goleta Beach and Carpinteria State Beach at the end of Ash Avenue, media reports say.

These beaches tested last week showed unsafe bacterial levels and are closed to swimming and surfing until further notice:

Beaches that remain fully open include Gaviota State Park, Refugio State Beach and Leadbetter Beach.

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UPDATES:

8:43 p.m. Jan. 21: This article was updated with details about the reopening of the 101 Freeway in the Santa Barbara area.

This article was originally published at 5:30 a.m. Jan. 21.

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