Guest View: San Benito County roads about to be overwhelmed

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A section of Union Road, near the scene of the accident where a woman's car drifted into a field, drove over several trees and crashed into a fence.

Poor transportation planning and lack of coordination, especially by San Benito County, will soon overwhelm a critical portion of the local road network.

San Benito County and the City of Hollister do not have a workable transportation plan to support the growth south and southeast of Hollister. It’s hard to believe, but until only recently the county did not even have a complete and up-to-date comprehensive local planning map.

Did the supervisors think the transportation issue would take care of itself?

All the approved and projected growth in this area will use the same three critical roads: Fairview Road, Airline Highway and Union Road. But the essential road improvements are nowhere to be found and not on anyone’s near horizon. Union Road and Fairview Road, the county’s primary responsibilities, will be the worst.

Union Road will get additional feeds from city development south of Hollister and county development along its length and off Southside Road. The county still has done essentially nothing about the Fairview Road traffic including traffic to John Smith landfill that takes in loads of out-of-county trash–together 13,690 to and from trips in May 2016, or the immediate impact of the Santa Ranch Development approved years ago. In the latter case the county took the Highway 25 improvement impact fees off the table for political reasons, giving up $9 million.

The county desperately needs to staff both the Planning and Public Works Departments with adequate qualified personnel to get this work done. The board of supervisors’ continued financial mismanagement and disdain for the essential long-term grunt work that real planning requires in favor of flashy, but empty, announcements means that their ideas are merely hollow shells that rarely, if ever, come to fruition or a good end.

This neglect has the potential of a gridlock nightmare that will last for years because the county is always broke and can’t do anything until it has money in hand. The root cause of that financial distress is lack of foresight and bad decisions of their own making.

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