As Highway 101 heads south toward Ventura, it erupts into zig-zagging patterns of badly erased old lane lines, punctuated by the black scorch marks left by motorists hitting the brakes. Difficult as it can be to know exactly where the lanes are now, the situation gets even more complicated starting Friday, April 22 at 11 p.m., between Mussel Shoals and Faria Beach, when Caltrans moves entire lanes over in order to complete work along the shoulders of the highway.
First up is two lanes along four miles of southbound highway in Ventura County. Starting just above Mussel Shoals — also known as the point where artificial Rincon Island protrudes into the Pacific — one southbound lane will cross the center median and occupy the northbound fast lane, which becomes a temporary southbound lane. Concrete K-rails will line the route to guide drivers. The original southbound fast lane will stay in place, but the two slower lanes will close for highway repairs. This will continue to about the Hobson Road overpass, where the lanes all return to the southbound highway, said Jim Medina, spokesperson for Caltrans District 7. Another line of K-rails will protect the workers completing the shoulder and lane repairs. The southbound work is expected to take about nine months and be completed by January 2023.
Needless to say, speeds are reduced to 55mph throughout the work zone. Caltrans states the lanes will be wide enough to accommodate big rigs and commuter buses. More than 75,000 motorists use that stretch of Highway 101, according to statistics from 2019, said Darrin Peschka with the Ventura County Transportation Commission, and about 15,000 were counted as commuters in 2016, the most recent year available for that statistic.
Once the southbound work is finished, a similar reconfiguration of lanes will take place for the northbound highway. Again, the work will take about nine months to complete, through to about the winter of 2023-2024.
All the lane-boggling changes are part of a $48 million project, courtesy in part of the U.S. 101 Pavement Rehabilitation funding from SB1.
Correction: This story was revised to correct the configuration of the new southbound lanes, the start time, and updated usage information.