There’s a new plan on the table that could go a long way toward
easing one of our region’s worst transportation headaches.
There’s a new plan on the table that could go a long way toward easing one of our region’s worst transportation headaches.

This plan is something of a puzzle that would have to be assembled piece by piece, but it offers real hope for solving a problem that threatens the economic health and safety of San Benito County and its residents.

One of those pieces will begin going into place this spring with the start of construction on a new $33 million flyover interchange at the junction of state highways 152 and 156. A second piece, not yet funded but high on the list of projects eligible for state “corridor mobility improvement” money through Proposition 1B, involves widening U.S. Highway 101 south of Gilroy’s Monterey Street and building a new cloverleaf interchange where state Highway 25 comes together with 101. This project would also include widening Highway 25 in Santa Clara County.

With those two improvements in place, the next piece would be a new east-west highway connecting the new interchanges that would become the main transit artery for truck and commuter traffic going between Highway 101 and Interstate 5 via Pacheco Pass.

This piece of the puzzle is now in the “predevelopment” stage, with Santa Clara County’s Valley Transportation Authority planning to seek money next month from the state for a study. San Benito County’s Board of Supervisors and Council of Governments, along with the Gilroy City Council, have all adopted resolutions throwing their support behind the overall concept and VTA’s request for study funding. The Hollister City Council, we hope, will follow suit.

This united push by local government entities represents a refreshing change from the parochialism and divisiveness that has doomed past projects that might have benefited our area. We welcome this collaborative, regional approach to problem solving and political team building. It is the only way we will win the state and federal dollars needed to fix our regional transportation problem.

Both new interchanges that figure into this plan are in Santa Clara County. The four-lane connector route would cut across northern San Benito County. Both counties would see significant benefit, as would anyone who needs to travel to truck goods between Highway 101 and I-5.

The two-lane highways that now move east-west traffic across San Benito County carry a dangerous mix that includes truckers, commuters, tourists and farm machinery. The new highway would sort things out and pull most of the big-rig trucks passing through off of highways 152 and 156, resulting in a huge improvement in road safety. It would also help ease the commuter traffic crunch and make local transport of products more manageable and economical.

Moving forward on this plan will help solve a regional transportation problem that threatens our community’s future.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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