Highway 156 expansion still slated to start in summer 2019

The Highway 156 expansion remains a couple years away from starting, but that didn’t stop the California State Governor’s Office from including it on a list of key infrastructure projects released this week.

In 2008, Caltrans approved an environmental impact report for the project that would expand the road from San Juan Bautista to a point close to Hollister into a four-lane, at-grade expressway. As of 2015, the cost of the project was estimated at $47.2 million for construction and $81.2 million total. According to a county transportation report, financial sources were set to include local impact fees, state funds and inter-regional funds.

A Tuesday letter from the governor’s office sent by Executive Secretary Nancy McFadden included an “initial” list of key infrastructure projects in the state. Those projects represent over $100 billion in targeted investment across California, the letter stated.

The Highway 156 improvements project is defined in the list.

“Build four express lanes on Highway 156, a major freight and regional connector in Monterey and San Benito Counties,” the list stated.

Council of San Benito County Governments Executive Director Mary Gilbert on Wednesday said construction of the improvements should happen around the summer of 2019.

“There’s been no change to the timeline since last year,” Gilbert said. “It was around May when we had an updated timeline for the project.”

Gilbert said the delay in improvements is related to limited funding at the state level. Highway funding from the State Transportation Improvement Program was cut across the board and Highway 156 was delayed.

“We’re advocating for funding to go through to the project, Gilbert said. “It’s a high priority for (the Council of San Benito County Governments).”

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