Southbound Hwy. 101 drivers to be detoured near Santa Maria

Drivers heading south on Highway 101 on Wednesday evening near the San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara county line will be temporarily detoured off the highway while construction continues on a project to widen the highway over the Santa Maria River bridge.

From 9 p.m. to midnight Wednesday, motorists heading south will detour off Highway 101 at the Highway 166 off-ramp and re-enter on the highway on-ramp, according to a news release from Caltrans.

The detour will allow for the realignment of the southbound lanes of Highway 101 onto the newly constructed median structure, which will be used by drivers for about six months. Doing so will allow for improvements to be made to the southbound lanes.

There will be limited shoulder space on the bridge during this phase of construction, and Caltrans recommends that cyclists traveling south detour along Thompson Avenue to Highway 166 East to Bull Canyon Road to Donovan Road.

Cyclists traveling north can detour Donovan Road to Bull Canyon Road to Highway 166 West to Thompson Avenue.

The project will widen the bridge to six lanes from four with shoulders and includes a bike lane, which will be constructed near the southbound lanes behind a concrete barrier. It is about 65 percent complete and expected to be finished in early 2014, according to Caltrans.

The $31 million project is intended to improve traffic flow on this section of Highway 101, minimize collisions and provide additional shoulders. The contractor is Flatiron West Inc. of San Marcos.