State Route 33 Emergency Highway Repairs


State Route 33 (SR-33) In Ventura County in Los Padres National Forest north of the city of Ojai. 

The Project

There are four emergency projects to repair damage to the highway and its slopes and embankments. 


Relentless storms from the winter of 2022/2023 caused excessive damage to a substantial portion of SR-33. The highway experienced extensive mudslides, rockslides, erosion to slopes and embankments and several sections of collapsed roadway.

Four retaining walls (set with steel piles) will be constructed. Slopes and embankments are under reconstruction at multiple locations. Some embankments require the construction of Rock Slope Protection using boulders weighing up to six tons each and many of the boulders will be recycled from the slides. Some will include the use of geogrid, a geosynthetic material used to reinforce and stabilize the soil and provide filtration. Some slopes will require installation of
elevated cable-mesh drapery systems. All guardrail within the closure has been replaced. Drains and culverts have been cleared and are also being replaced.                                                                                                     


The areas of reconstruction will be reinforced and stabilized with the intent to prevent future highway, slope and embankment failures in the same locations and maintain a safe travel route.


Approximately 32 miles of roadway were closed from Matilija Hot Springs Road to the Ozena Fire Station just south of Lockwood Valley Road from January 10 until December 18, 2023.   A separate section of SR-33 at post mile 14.34 (south of the closure) also has damaged roadway, slope, and embankment and required moving utility lines


The highway was reopened to the public on December 18, 2023, but emergency repairs continue and there are six locations with one-way traffic control managed by solar powered signals or flagging. Drivers should expect delays of five to fifteen minutes at each location. Bicycles are not permitted. Each construction zone has a set of two signals:

·      Postmile 14.35 (near Cozy Dell Trailhead)

·      Postmile 17.40 (about one mile south of the three tunnels)

·      Postmiles 24.75 to 25.57 (south of Rose Valley Road)

·      Postmile 26.34 (north of Rose Valley Road)

·      Postmile 42.94 (Near Pine Mountain summit)

·      Postmile 44.13 (almost two miles north of the summit)

Four retaining walls need to be built and work is expected to continue at least through the end of summer 2024.  

Total Programmed Project Costs

The current estimated total construction cost is $35 million. All emergency funding has been secured.


Q: Why are there four separate emergency projects?

A: Damage was so extensive and varied that it had to be divided into four separate sections with four separate contractors to complete it.  Contractors are Staples Construction, Union Engineering, Granite Construction, and R & R Demolition and Grading.

Q: Why is it taking so long to repair?

A: Members of the Caltrans (District 7) Geotechnical Division had to review every section of highway in person and through drone aerial video to assess damage that continued to change and increase every time it rained. Then the Design Division had to create plans to repair every section of damage. The Environmental Division had to work to secure permits from five different state and federal agencies.

Well over 2,000 truckloads of debris were removed. Some sections of roadway collapsed. Reparation of slopes and embankments is a slow and dangerous process that includes rock scalers and heavy equipment traversing steep inclines.  Storms during the summer of 2023 also caused additional damage.

Q: Where can I find updates?

A: Please watch for weekly updates with photos and video at State Route 33 on X and periodic news releases at Caltrans District 7 News Releases.


Contact Information

Marc Bischoff
Public Information Officer
Caltrans – District 7