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June 14, 2021

Preview: Board to weigh Highway 156 deal with Caltrans

County supervisors Tuesday are set to weight an agreement with the California Department of Transportation on the design and construction of the Highway 156 Improvement Project.
“Part of the project is the transfer of the existing highway to the county,” said Supervisor Anthony Botelho in a phone interview.
“We need to accept that transfer and make sure the road is in a condition that won’t be excessive to the county and its taxpayers.”
The board is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the County Administration Building, 481 Fourth St.
Botelho said the resolution would make the the county “proactive” in working with Caltrans to move the project forward.
He said there were no known delays being sought by landowners along the expansion route, but the joint authority agreement would allow the county and Caltrans to explore alternative routes along the road.
In 2008, Caltrans approved an environmental impact report for the project. The plan would expand Highway 156 – from San Juan Bautista to a point near Hollister – into a four-lane, at-grade expressway. The cost of the project is estimated at $47.2 million and would receive both county and state funding. In October, the Council of San Benito County Governments agreed to add two more years of planning to the project and is weighing an alternate route.
“Being stakeholders of this project of both land use in the area, and more importantly financially, we should be at the table and express our concerns about the route,” he said.
Also on the agenda:
-The board will consider accepting a one-time contribution of $100,000 from the local courts to help fund limited security services at the new courthouse on Fourth Street, which opened on Monday. The courthouse, which received $33 million in state funding to build, was completed in January but was delayed in opening to the public because of a lack of state funding dedicated to financing three security officers required for the new complex.
-The board will take up a resolution to accept a collective bargaining agreement with the county and Service Employees International Union, after months of negotiation since the union’s contract with the county expired in September. The board imposed its “last, best and final offer” on the union in early February.

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