VTA to select bids for Hwy 152 widening

Drivers leaving Gilroy east on Pacheco Pass Highway toward
Hollister or Los Banos will finally see some improvements to the
busy road. But before it improves, it might get worse.
Drivers leaving Gilroy east on Pacheco Pass Highway toward Hollister or Los Banos will finally see some improvements to the busy road. But before it improves, it might get worse.

On Nov. 30, The Valley Transportation Authority plans to select a winning bid for the long-delayed widening of Highway 152 from just west of Gilroy Foods to Llagas Creek. Assuming a reasonable bid is accepted, the VTA will recommend a contract to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors at their Dec. 9 meeting, allowing work to begin in May after potential flood dangers have passed.

Santa Clara County Supervisor and VTA Chairman Don Gage said Thursday that the $23-million project “is a go.”

The bridge crossing Llagas Creek will be widened to accommodate the new road, but the centerpiece of the project is a much-needed signal in front of Gilroy Foods. The east entrance of the garlic producer will be aligned with the Westside Transport Inc. entrance across the highway. Turning lanes will be added for both businesses.

VTA’s chief construction officer Jack Collins said Thursday that the project should take about 18 months and be completed by the end of 2006.

In the meantime, South Valley Disposal & Recycling Inc. is adding to the congestion, moving some of its operation from its Alexander St. building to the trucking facility directly across 152 from Gilroy Foods. That means about 70 employees and 45 trucks turning in and out of one of South Valley’s worst intersections.

That’s bad news for the more than 600 Gilroy Food employees who have to dart into traffic while waiting to leave work.

The disposal company, a subsidiary of San Francisco-based Norcal, wants a new transfer station as much as four times larger than its San Martin facility where it processes and transfers solid waste and recyclable material from Santa Clara and San Benito counties.

The Westside Transport Inc. facility is at the top of its shopping list.

General Manager Phil Couchee said Thursday that his company won’t actually increase the traffic on 152 .

“The trucks already go back and forth beyond there,” he said. “There will actually be significantly less traffic than there was with Westside Transport. They had as many as 300 trucks at their peak.”

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