A contractor on June 18 prepares material to apply to a soundwall under construction along the south side of the new Highway 156 improvement project connecting San Juan Bautista and Hollister. Photo: Michael Moore

As part of the State Route 156 Improvement Project, Caltrans will temporarily close a short section of Union Road, starting in July, the California Department of Transportation said this week. Specifically, Union Road will be closed between San Juan Hollister Road and SR 156 in the City of Hollister, for no more than eight weeks. 

The closure is targeted to start the third week of July, weather permitting, Caltrans said. The exact dates will be announced within one week of the closure.

Caltrans said the closure is necessary to reconstruct the intersection of Union Road and SR 156, to align with the new SR 156 widening project, and improve access to and from the highway. During the closure, traffic will be required to detour via San Juan Hollister Road to access SR 156.

Following the expected reopening of Union Road in late summer, two milestones will be met—traffic on SR 156 will be shifted onto the new paving just south of the existing highway and a new roundabout will be in operation at Bixby Road, Caltrans said.

To accommodate anticipated increased traffic via the temporary detour, additional traffic control devices will be installed at Fourth Street and SR 156, and San Juan Hollister Rd and Fourth Street/Business 156.

That includes temporary, portable traffic signals in each direction at the intersection of San Juan Hollister Road and Fourth Street; and a longer dedicated right turn late to Fourth Street from eastbound Highway 156, Caltrans said. 

 For community outreach, Caltrans and the Council of San Benito County Governments (SBCOG) created a series of detour and traffic control maps in English and Spanish. The detour maps are available on the SBCOG’s website at https://sanbenitocog.org/transportation-updates

Temporary portable message signs advising commuters of the planned closure and detour will also be placed in advance of the intersection.

The temporary closure of Mitchell Road, just north of SR 156, will take place after Union Road reopens, to allow additional intersection improvements and repaving of the old highway into a frontage road, Caltrans added. More information will be provided during the summer. 

The Highway 156 Improvement project—which began construction in 2022—will end up with five fresh miles of newly paved four-lane, at-grade expressway surfaces from The Alameda in San Juan Bautista to Business Route 156 near Hollister. 

The project, sponsored by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), is scheduled to be complete and open to the public in fall of 2025, according to Caltrans. 

The new stretch of pavement on Highway 156 will fill a “gap” in the expressway system and provide a continuous expressway system from the connection at U.S.101 to the City of Hollister, according to Caltrans. The project also includes a new roundabout at Bixby Road.

The total cost of the project is about $130.7 million, and is funded by local developer traffic impact fees, state Interregional Improvement Program funds and other federal revenue, according to the Caltrans website. 

A masonry contractor on June 18 applies plaster to a soundway along the south side of the Highway 156 improvement project just east of San Juan Bautista. Photo: Michael Moore
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