Caltrans District 5 is working to get the state to recognize the Highway 101 corridor as a major economic asset through the U.S. 101 Business Plan, according to a presentation given at the Council of San Benito County Governments (COG) meeting on Nov. 19.
Vanessa Faul and Kelly McClendon, transportation planners with Caltrans, introduced the plan initiated by the Central Coast Coalition, of which COG is a member along with other transportation agencies from Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
“The purpose of the U.S. 101 Business Plan is to provide the data, strategy and community support needed to secure financial investments in the U.S. 101 corridor,” Faul said.
The plan would follow the model of the Central Valley’s State Route 99 Business Plan, which provided $1 million for improvements in 2006, Faul said. She noted that the 101 plan would only use projects that have been identified and not add new ones.
“I do want to clarify that the business plan will only include transportation projects and it won’t include any land development projects,” she said.
The plan has five goals and objectives:
- Safety and health—strive toward zero deaths, promote a healthy community and reduce harmful air pollutants.
- Sustainability and climate change—reduce transportation impacts and provide transportation options.
- Economy—support economic growth, facilitate efficient goods movements and provide access to jobs.
- Mobility—optimize system performance, improve reliability of travel and expand and improve parking facilities.
- Equity—improve transportation-related outcomes for disadvantaged communities, reduce burdens, and improve access to safe mobility options.
To define the region’s priorities, Faul said Caltrans is seeking feedback from the various transportation agencies, as well as the public.
McClendon said there are several planned focus groups looking for feedback on trends, challenges and priorities. The first one will include Santa Cruz and San Benito counties and is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Dec. 10.
“It’s important for us to cast a broad net and make sure that we reach out to community-based organizations, disadvantaged communities, underrepresented populations so we’ve been working with San Benito COG staff to consolidate the stakeholders list to send invites,” he said.
Because of COVID-19, McClendon said Caltrans fell behind schedule to finalize the business plan. He added the agency hopes to complete it in March or April of next year.
Following the presentation, Hollister Mayor and COG Board Chair Ignacio Velazquez asked Caltrans to look at choke points at the Highway 101/156 and 101/25 interchanges. Director Mary Edge, who is also mayor of San Juan Bautista, concurred.
“We have a lot of congestion and it’s all over,” Edge said.
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