Business / Economy

City takes another step toward downtown upgrades

Amended contract targets improvements of safety and traffic in downtown corridor

Hollister officials want a better quality of life along the city’s main drag, the historic center of commerce in the community.

Under an extended agreement with the city, TJKM Transportation Consultants has laid out the future of San Benito Street — which runs through the heart of the city.

Through a budget appropriation of $36,000, the Hollister City Council recently amended an agreement with the engineering firm envisioning new stripes and turning lanes between Third and Hawkins streets.

“Work should begin following the (Fourth of July motorcycle) rally,” said Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez in a statement May 4 to BenitoLink. “We’d like to get it done before school starts.”

The move along San Benito Street continues a step toward improvements recommended last year by TJKM and adopted in February by the city council.

“These improvements included reducing lanes from two in each direction to one in each direction, road diets, bicycle lanes or shared lanes,” reads a recent report by the city’s staff. “The plan also included the installation of a traffic circle at Gateway Drive,” near Tiffany Ford and the site of a planned hotel in northern Hollister. A road diet refers to a multi-directional reduction of lanes from four to three, including a two-way turning lane.

Hollister Downtown Association Executive Director Brenda Weatherly said in a statement May 4 to BenitoLink that the efforts will support local business.

“The goal is to make the downtown area more pedestrian-friendly, including traffic-calming measures and highly visible crosswalks,” she said. “The Hollister Downtown Association is looking forward to this next phase toward the revitalization of our downtown area.”

Though the city needs unspecified amounts of time and money for the entire project, its first step continues making progress.

“In order to begin implementation, the downtown area was selected as the first section to be reconfigured,” added the report. “This stretch of San Benito Street between Third Street and Hawkins Street will be the initial phase. The improvements will include the slurry seal of San Benito Street. Striping of new lanes consisting of one in each direction with turn lanes, crosswalks, parking, modifications to the traffic signal at San Benito and Fifth Street, and other traffic markings as needed.”

The extended agreement with the transportation consultant, according to a report by the city’s staff, additionally includes the design services for the reconstruction of San Benito Street at Nash Road, a “rutted and deformed” intersection.

In February, according to a previous report by BenitoLink, the Hollister City Council approved a plan to improve traffic and safety in 10 intersections along San Felipe Road and San Benito Street, between Nash Road and the Pinnacles National Park Highway, the latter of which goes by “State Road 25.”

Hollister officially took over San Benito Street in March 2014, when Caltrans relinquished control and took charge of the new Highway 25 bypass east of downtown. After that, according to a local resolution, the city studied that street in an initial effort to “upgrade the quality of life” in and near the downtown corridor.

Jason McCormick

Jason McCormick is a journalist taking a break from news and now running mcormc corporation, a data driven digital marketing agency in Redding, Calif.