COG seeks input on Hwy. 25 project

The San Benito Council of County Governments (COG) will hold a
community meeting Thursday night for local residents concerned
about the ongoing Highway 25 improvement project.
Hollister – The San Benito Council of County Governments (COG) will hold a community meeting Thursday night for local residents concerned about the ongoing Highway 25 improvement project.

“This gives everybody an opportunity to come up and look at the plans, and if they have any concerns they can address them,” COG Director Pauline Valdivia said.

Safety improvements to the highway began in the summer of 2000, and construction is scheduled for completion in winter of 2006. The $10 million project will be funded by COG and the Hollister Redevelopment Association. Plans include the installation of concrete and soft meridian barriers, the addition of shoulders and left turn lanes, and consolidation of various driveways along Hwy. 25.

The COG board of directors has already heard several complaints about the project, most recently at a meeting earlier this month. One local farmer whose orchards are bisected by Hwy. 25 said a half-mile long stretch of concrete barrier between Wright and Briggs Road would make it difficult and unsafe for his employees to move tractors and other farm equipment from one side of the highway to the other.

The directors took these concerns into account, and will be asking CalTrans to eliminate that section of concrete barrier from the plans, according to Valdivia.

COG Director Pat Loe said the goal of Thursday’s meeting is to see more residents affected by the project come out with their concerns. COG sent out a mailer for the meeting to residents living along affected areas of Hwy. 25 and other interested locals who had signed up on a mailing list, Loe said.

“I just hope we get a lot of people out so we can get a lot of local input,” she said.

Concerns should be limited to the interim safety improvements currently scheduled, said Eileen Goodwin, a community outreach consultant with Apex Strategies who is helping the COG staff with the project. She encouraged anyone living on property adjacent to Hwy. 25 to come to the meeting Thursday. Concerns about the eventual widening of Hwy. 25 won’t be addressed Thursday, Goodwin said, because it is a separate project.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, Dec. 2 from 6 to 8pm in the Board of Supervisors’ chambers at 481 Fourth Street in Hollister.

Jessica Quandt covers politics for the Free Lance. Reach her at 831-637-5566 ext. 330 or at [email protected]

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