[UPDATE: Road Open!] Where to Go Now That 101 Is Closed

Overturned semi in redwoods

Overturned semi near Dora Creek with oil spill. [Photo from CHP]

Highway 101 is going to be closed until sometime tomorrow as crews work to clear a spill that flowed from a tanker truck that overturned around 11:30 a.m. According to CHP, “Cal-trans and clean up crews will be working through out the night in attempts to have at least one lane of traffic open by sometime tomorrow morning.”

The options to work around the closure and get to I-5 include: State Route 20, State Route 36 (people unused to rural roads should avoid this route), and State Route 299.

Map of workarounds

The routes marked in green show recommended possible ways to go around the closure (marked with a red dot) of Hwy 101.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the tanker truck

…overturned and came to rest blocking the northbound lane of US-101. After the collision, the tanker portion of the vehicle which contained the used motor oil was breached and an unknown amount of the used motor oil leaked onto the roadway and dirt shoulder south of US-101. Due to collision and subsequent spill, the northbound and southbound lanes of US-101 were closed for clean-up and recovery of the tractor tanker combination. The length of the closure on US-101 extends from State Route 271 (Reynold’s over-crossing) in Peircy, CA to State Route 1 in Leggett, CA. At this time, the duration of the closure on US-101 is unknown.

The California Highway Patrol is recommending drivers to seek alternate routes of travel which would include State Route 20, State Route 36, Interstate 5 and State Route 299.

The California Highway Patrol and assisting agencies appreciate your patience and understanding as we resolve this situation and restore the roadway to a safe and suitable condition.

Fuel Spill Chp provided photo

Workers building a berm to contain the spill before it contaminates an old growth redwood grove. [Photo provided by the CHP]

UPDATE 6:27 a.m.: Hwy 101 is open to one-way controlled traffic. Click here for more on the story.



  • My wife made it to bridgeville via bell springs road…
    About 2.5 hours

  • FYI Kim it looks like you have your location turned on on the map maybe?

  • Sure doesnt look like used motor oil. Used hydrolic fluid?

  • What happened to the kids stuck at school? Is the school putting them up for the night?

  • Bell Springs Fire

    Please do not take Bell Springs Road as an alternate route. There is a lot of traffic today with people unfamiliar with this road and driving too fast. With recent grading and heavy rains , some parts are very muddy and slippery. There is no cellphone coverage for large portions of the road and no help. Tow trucks charge a fortune to recover your vehicle. Stay safe.

  • No they all went home about 4:15 and it wasn’t 40 kids…much much less

  • Not that this isnt a rilly big mess,Im sure redwoods just love to soak their feet used tranny oil ,but what if we had a REALLLLLYYYYY BIG disaster? How long does one think would the road be closed? Last year a few rocks on the gville- rdway bluffs kept it closed for a month! For Christs saket ,that was the disaster! What we really need is some of that ole post WWII logger gitter done attitude.Only goes to show you how fragile our situation really is.As in,what if we had a HUGE disaster, 64 flood style?.Safeway in Fortuna would be out of bannannas in about 2 days for Petes sake.

    • Haha that’s why I live here, I can survive for months probably years, if you live in the city’s then your screwed.

  • Virginia Graziani

    Friend made it over Bell Springs from Garberville south in small 2-wheel drive pick-up. However, this was in daylight. Took about 2 hours. Said that there was a lot of apparent local traffic on Bell Springs and road surface was in bad shape on the north side. So not a great alternative for most vehicles.

  • Where is alder point road flooded? Can you take
    Bell springs to garberville? Stuck in ft.bragg tonite, need to get to eureka tomorrow.

  • I work at the Patriot in Cooks Valley and I’ve been telling people bell springs is closed, go 36 or 299.

  • Caltrans suggesting 36 would explain the awful traffic tonight… I was wondering what was up, as it was even worse than the usual crowd of stoned trimmigrants we’ve been putting up with.

    If you don’t know what to do when you come to a part of the road that isn’t a straight line (*gasp*! A CURVE!), don’t take 36. And if you do take 36 anyway, PULL THE FUCK OVER. I think all of grizzly creek was a solid line of cars 10 miles long because someone at the front of it was driving 5mph. Unless you’re a competent driver, you’ll save time by heading up north and taking 299.

    • holy sheet. i was one of first cars on scene, no cops, and, with council from some seriously cool and jealous semi-truck dudes, hightailed back up 101n the 55 min to the 36east turnoff. i was among the first cars heading out that route and i kept thinking how glad it was i had no passengers because they would have been puking their guts out!

      i wished i’d had a sign to announce to locals to just take the day off. stay off your road. man we were just slamming. goal? get all the way to red bluff by dark. (impossible but at least it would minimize danger and, ultimately, traffic)

      i write to apologize to all the perfectly great local dudes and dudettes who were cooking along super nicely on your otherwise awesome road. but, a five hour detour and some of us were suddenly on a mission! screaming!!!

      wishing all best kind wishes and very good health to you and your lovely community.
      ~robin (from taos, new mexico — a long drive!! btw.. wanna drive other tough rural roads? visit us, you’d all fit right in!)

      • Robin from Taos. I traversed a ‘highway’ from Magdalena to Silver City way back in 1972. Took ten hours on gravel and chiseled from rock. Was warned by the postmaster in Magdalena to make sure we carried water and a shovel. Was the most harrowing journey of my life. Only time we had to open gates on a state highway.

        • come back and visit, EAB!! sounds like y’all know what yer doing up here! be well everyone and drive safe. i’m just leaving red bluff now. 7am and I-5 oughta be rosy

      • I was one of the first over 36 in the dark blue Mustang convertible. I just tucked in behind a local dude in a brown pickup, gave him three car lengths room at let her rip. He is one of the best drivers I have ever seen.

    • Bushytails, I agree 250% if you must drive this narrow winding mountain road be careful if you don’t know the road go slower but most importantly when you are going slow GET OVER!!!! Let faster traffic through to keep them from tailgating you!!!

  • Don’t try the Usal Rd. It makes Bell Springs look like a freeway.

  • GUEST?…… You could go years without bannannas?What would a Mt. Man do? Squirrel splits with fried bannana slugs con dark brown tranny oil sauce? Heirloom dried zuckinni chips w/ salted battery juice? ….Years! Ha ha Ha ha ! Shreeking eels right out of the polluted Eel…. Right? We wouldn’t make it four days without the Little Debs Truck delivery@ RAYS…..Cigs? How many daughteers ya got meeester?

  • oh and hope that guy driving the red VW Jetta behind me so very much of the way reads this. he gave me strength, kept me pushing it. felt like a team! funny how that can happen.

    oh and i apologize to all those double yellows 🙂 please don’t hate me!

  • That redwood grove at Dora Springs is one of my favorite rest stops on 101, so sad to see that’s where it happened. Took Bell Springs north to Garberville and it wasn’t too bad- coupla wet spots and had to pull over a few times to let speed demons through so they could be a few cars up the endless line of drivers thinking the same thing. They all were surprised, never saw a bimmer pull over and give way before!

  • Wow. Hunker down, sit still, enjoy the beauty of our environment. Go out to Kome for sushi. Eat a pizza. Bananas… Whew! Don’t smoke the local product or you may end up here for years!

  • Toxic Ecosystem Accidents like this is one of the many reasons people are against the Wilits Bypass as well as widening 101 through Richardson Grove, wider roads allow larger trucks and larger spills and threat to our Eel River ecosystem and Watershed, this spill dumped into a protected old growth redwood grove literally 150 feet from the Eel River on a steep bank. Time to protect our regions watersheds! No Richardson Grove Widening! No larger truck spills!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *