Travelers to Julian face miles-long backup

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Interstate 8 east ground to a halt, the mountain town of Julian became completely gridlocked in traffic, and access to several mountain recreation areas was closed off at mid-afternoon Thursday as thousands of San Diegans went to play in the snow.

The freeway towards El Centro was at a dead standstill for several miles as thousands of drivers tried to exit at Route 79 or the Sunrise Highway, accessways to two popular snow play areas in the Laguna Mountains.

In North County, the CHP closed Route 76 to eastbound traffic at Valley Center Road as the higher elevations to the east became jammed with parked cars. Both North Grade and East Grade roads up Palomar Mountain were also jammed, and closed to all but people who live up the mountain, the CHP said.

In Julian, gridlock was reported in the quaint town as coastal residents tried to park to find snow, hot pie or other attractions.

“It’s busy, but not too crazy,” said Pistols & Petticoats owner Debbie Mushet. “It’s mainly the restaurants and pie shops that are busy.”

That was confirmed by employee Monique Quijano at Julian Pie Company.

“The line is all the way down the street and probably 45 minutes to an hour,” Quijano said.

Meanwhile, CHP media officer Robert Catano said traffic was very heavy coming into Julian, but not so bad that people were being turned away.

But for those who were still inclined to head to Julian for a little snow time, Catano warned “just expect to be stuck in backed up traffic.”

Categories: KUSI