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August 18, 2022

VTA Studying New Route for Highway 152

Hollister
– As Santa Clara County’s Valley Transportation Authority begins
studying potential locations for a new alignment of Highway 152,
San Benito leaders are taking a close look at the options.
Hollister – As Santa Clara County’s Valley Transportation Authority begins studying potential locations for a new alignment of Highway 152, San Benito leaders are taking a close look at the options.

Representatives from VTA and San Benito County’s Council of Governments both emphasized that all discussions are preliminary; according to VTA spokeswoman Jayme Kunz, the final decision won’t be made until 18 months to two years from now.

Kunz said that under the current plans, eastbound traffic on Highway 152 would instead take Highway 25 southbound, before shifting over to a highway south of the existing 152 alignment and eventually rejoining the existing Highway 152 at the 152-156 interchange.

Several members of COG’s board of directors have said determining the new alignment’s exact location is a critical decision. County Supervisor Don Marcus, who sits on the COG board, said he isn’t happy with the planned route through north San Benito County.

“I’m adamant about protecting the residences and the ag land in the Soap Lake area,” Marcus said. “We cannot sacrifice that land for new highway improvements.”

Marcus said it makes more sense to take advantage of the existing highways and widen westbound 156 and northbound 25, creating a lengthier route that would not result in a loss of county land.

San Juan City Councilman George Dias, who is also on the COG board, said he will support a new route through northern San Benito. It’s not ideal, he said, but the route needs to be as far north as possible, in order to tempt more drivers off Highway 156.

Although Highway 152’s often congested existing route is the site of numerous accidents, widening the highway is considered to be prohibitively expensive.

COG Executive Director Lisa Rheinheimer said previously published maps showing a new alignment through northern San Benito County are somewhat misleading, because VTA doesn’t have a particular route in mind.

“It really should have highlighted a swath of the land that they’re looking at,” Rheinheimer said.

When asked who will make the ultimate call on the highway’s location, Kunz said it’s too early to tell.

“We’re not intending to make any final decisions without getting agreement from San Benito County,” she said.

Anthony Ha covers local government for the Free Lance. Reach him at 831-637-5566 ext. 330 or [email protected]

Anthony Ha
A staff member edited this provided article.

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