Frequent users of Highway 1 will have to find a different route that takes them to their destination, thanks to a multi-million dollar road repair project that will leave the road closed through late November.

The California Dept. of Transportation (Caltrans) was forced to close off the road to complete the $5.3 million storm repair project, which has been underway since last winter’s heavy storms destroyed portions of the highway, a press release from Caltrans stated. Caltrans spokesman Colin Jones said the road was closed Oct. 25 and will continue to be until the work – estimated to take four weeks – is finished. He said the current roadwork should help prevent future flooding problems and rain damage.

Jones said a section of the highway will be realigned and moved away from El Jaro Creek, which contributed to the flooding last year, and Ytais Creek. Caltrans will also build retaining walls to prevent flooding and will repave the base of the road, adding cables underneath the surface to stabilize it.

“In January, part of Highway 1 collapsed and the rain eroded a section of the roadway,” Jones said. “Now [Caltrans] has to go out and rebuild the road. We’re aiming to complete the construction in four weeks, but do not have a set date to finish the construction. We hope to open the road before Thanksgiving.”

Jones said Caltrans will finance the project through money it receives from the state and federal government. Signs in Lompoc and on Highway 101 at Gaviota are currently in place to alert motorists of the closure and recommend Highway 246 as a detour, he said.

“The road was shut down earlier this year, so some motorists are familiar with taking the 246 – the detour we will be using,” Jones said. “It should only add 10 to 15 minutes to motorists’ commute.”

Jones said Condon-Johnson & Associates, a construction company from Oakland, Calif. was selected to do the road repair because they were the lowest bidder. He said he is confident that the construction company will be able to get the work done quickly and cheaply.

California Highway Patrol Officer Marc Combs of the Buellton Police Dept. said he helped Caltrans assess the extent of the damage to the road and took over 35 photographs last January to document the road’s state after the heavy storms.

Combs said his photographs, which show the highway sliding towards the creek bed, helped Caltrans plan the project, though the CHP is not involved in the construction.

“You could actually hear the damage,” Combs said. “You could hear the earth moving and creaking. It was moving trees and snapping their roots and I started taking pictures.”