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May 21, 2022

Community Board: Learn lesson from timing on lane work

Downtown business leaders and city officials have a good plan in place to narrow main street from four lanes to two lanes, but the timing of construction work is not ideal.
Guided by a broader downtown strategy plan and consultants’ recommendations, along with leadership from the Hollister Downtown Association and public works officials, the district is set for a significant change in coming weeks. Officials are progressing on plans to reduce the downtown’s four lanes to two between Third and Hawkins streets while installing turn pockets at intersections that don’t already have them.
The council could approve a contract costing about $124,000 at a Nov. 30 special meeting after the public works department last week opened bids. If that happens, the work could start days later, or right in the heart of holiday shopping season.
Downtown business owners have mixed views. Some contended it could hurt sales and questioned why it would occur in December. Others have wanted the work done as soon as possible to deter pedestrian-unfriendly traffic that keeps some potential customers away.
Both sides have good points, and the lane reduction is most certainly needed to enhance the environment for pedestrians. It’s just too bad, though, that the city had to put off the work for so long and that plans now call for shutting down the street for days during the December shopping rush. Now, it seems, the only question remaining is the duration of the impact to San Benito Street.
The number of days needed for the minor roadwork has been a point of debate. City public works official David Rubcic contended the work would take one to two days, depending on whether contractors do half the street at a time or all of it at once. Others such as Bill’s Bullpen owner Bill Mifsud expressed skepticism about the number of days needed to get it done, and Mifsud suggested he would be surprised if it was finished in three or four days.
Mifsud’s perspective comes off as more realistic, so waiting until January could pose a significant risk of having to deal with El Niño rains as well.
In this case, it’s a tough break on timing and it’s a lesson learned for the next situation when the city considers long-planned construction work in a commercial zone.
The Community Insight Board is an independent panel of volunteers who meet to discuss local issues. This group forms opinions based on majority consensus, but members do not always agree on every issue. Members include Jae Eade, Cesar Flores, Frankie Gallagher, Gordon Machado, Brenda Weatherly and Jim West. If you are interested in joining the panel, email moderator Kollin Kosmicki at [email protected].

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