A statewide bicycle race that is pedaling its way through Santa Barbara will cause some temporary road closures that could affect local motorists looking to head downtown today and tomorrow.
The State Street off-ramp of U.S. Highway 101 and parts of Highway 154 will be closed today and tomorrow while the Amgen Tour of California passes through Santa Barbara. The eight-day race, which runs from Feb. 19 to Feb. 26, features 16 of the world’s top professional cycling teams and stretches from San Francisco to Redondo Beach. California Highway Patrol (CHP) Spokesman Donald Clotworthy said Santa Barbara’s roads will only be blocked for a short time, and motorists should use alternate routes to avoid the closures.
Highway 154 will be closed in both directions between Los Olivos and Santa Barbara from noon to 3 p.m. today, and Clotworthy said drivers should use Highway 101 between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara as an alternate route.
On Friday, westbound Highway 154 will be closed from 11:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Clotworthy said motorists can use northbound Highway 101 to Buellton instead. Eastbound Highway 154 at State Street and the State Street exit along southbound Highway 101 will both be closed Friday from 1 to 1:30 p.m. Clotworthy said motorists can use the Turnpike Road or La Cumbre Road exits as alternatives to the State Street off-ramp.
Clotworthy, who helped escort the cyclists during the race’s progress through Northern California earlier this week, said motorists have generally been patient with the road closures. He said he thinks the closures will only cause short delays in the local area.
“The [race] sites have been very well coordinated between local cities, and this minimized delays,” Clotworthy said. “There have only been a handful of [incidents and] delays are not likely to last more than 30 minutes.”
UCSB Transportation Alternatives Program Manager James Wagner said he does not think the closures will affect many UCSB students, staff or faculty. He said the cyclists will be riding along Highway 154 today and through downtown on Friday, and the CHP will reopen the roads as quickly as possible.
“[The racers are] coming over the [Highway] 154 overpass or they’ll be going downtown Friday, so again, it shouldn’t affect many UCSB commuters,” Wagner said. “There’s always an alternate route [and] road closure will only last a few hours. When the last rider passes a certain point, [CHP] reopens the roads.”
Clotworthy said the race, which raises funds for cancer-related charities, has drawn large crowds in every city it has visited thus far. He said updated information about the closures and alternate routes are available on the bike tour’s website, www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
“From what I’ve seen, 300,000 people came out [to watch the race] in Santa Rosa,” Clotworthy said. “The crowds have been spectacular. These are the same riders from the Tour de France, and I would encourage the people of Santa Barbara to go see them.”
The riders will be crossing the finish line for the Santa Barbara stage of the race on Friday. From 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., local residents can watch the racers make their way through downtown at the Santa Barbara Lifestyle Festival, which will broadcast the race on a big screen television, as well as provide live music and a variety of booths and activities dedicated to cycling and fitness.