101 widening ahead of schedule

Workers, weather combine to push project six months ahead
Motorists heading to and from Silicon Valley and beyond will
soon have reason to smile.
The $52 million project to widen the 7.5-mile stretch of U.S.
101 from Cochrane Road in Morgan Hill to Metcalf Road in San Jose
is six months ahead of schedule.
Workers, weather combine to push project six months ahead

Motorists heading to and from Silicon Valley and beyond will soon have reason to smile.

The $52 million project to widen the 7.5-mile stretch of U.S. 101 from Cochrane Road in Morgan Hill to Metcalf Road in San Jose is six months ahead of schedule.

As a result, commuters will be reaping the benefits by next March when the infamous stretch of highway is widened from two to four lanes in both directions.

“We had some lucky breaks, good scheduling and more crews available to do the work,” said Valley Transportation Authority spokesperson Lupe Solis. “And the weather has been great as well.”

When the stretch opens, it is estimated that commute times during peak hours will lessen by as much as 12 minutes.

“The opening of that freeway weighed heavily on my decision to take a job in Campbell,” said Hollister resident Chris Klein, who will begin using the freeway starting next week. “My time is a precious commodity and I’m really looking forward to it opening.”

As are the 3,600 other motorist who now blanket the stretch every hour during peak drive times.

Currently, the average speed on the northbound lanes between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. is 28 mph. When the new stretch is open, that figure will jump to 65 mph.

“We’re all happy to be ahead of schedule,” said VTA Public Information Manager John Pilger. “This will bring tremendous relief to the area. That stretch is not just the local gateway to the Bay Area, but it’s the gateway to the south and L.A. It affects interstate commerce and everything.”

During the evening rush hours in the southbound direction between the hours of 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., traffic along the bottlenecked freeway travels at speeds of 35 mph. That figure will also increase to 65 mph when the new lanes open.

The widening project calls for the addition of two new concrete lanes along the stretch. The left-hand lane will be designated for carpooling (HOV lane) during peak hours. Eventual plans call for left-hand lane to link with Highway 85 by way of a new single-lane onramp. The new lane will alleviate traffic congestion at the junction as carpoolers won’t have to merge into the current Highway 85 onramp that exists to the right of U.S. 101.

The 85/101 South Project as it is called is simultaneously going on as the 101 widening project unfolds. The $62 million 85-onramp project, however, won’t be completed until July of 2004.

1996 Measure B monies as well as state and federal funds are funding both projects.

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