Transportation

Court issues order of possession in Hwy 156 expansion project

Caltrans ready to start advertising for construction bids.

The Superior Court of San Benito County issued an order of possession in favor of the California Department of Transportation on Feb. 11 regarding the last properties Caltrans needed to acquire to continue with the Highway 156 expansion project. A hearing was scheduled that day for the order, but it was canceled, according to court officials. 

The $105.9 million expansion project consists of constructing four new lanes on the five-mile stretch of Highway 156 between The Alameda in San Juan Bautista and Hollister. Caltrans estimates the new highway will save $34.6 million in accident and vehicle operating costs over 20 years; will provide a $102.8 million return on investment in the same period; and reduce congestion by 1,902 hours daily and 694,257 hours annually. The project is funded through local traffic impact fees and the statewide transportation and improvement program (STIP). The project will leave the existing Highway 156 as a frontage road. 

Five parcels are part of the order for the Dobler Ranches property and are located south of the existing Highway 156 from Mission Vineyard Road to just before the Historical San Justo School near Flint Road. One parcel is owned by Timus Taylor Family Limited Partnership, located where the Dobler Ranches property ends before Union Road.

Caltrans Project Manager Brandy Rider said the order is a tentative agreement and that it takes effect 30 days after it’s served.

She said the court order allows Caltrans to move forward with the project by beginning the advertisement process for bids. She added Caltrans’ biggest concern over delays had to do with property acquisition.

In negotiations with property owners, Rider said both parties agreed that no road construction would be done on those properties until December. She said since roadwork is scheduled to begin in September, Caltrans will work around those properties.

“The agreement allows them another season to get through their operations as far as crops and agriculture business,” Rider said. 

However, work on utility relocation will occur on all the properties involved in the project starting in April, Rider said. 

To keep the community informed about the project, Caltrans will conduct a public awareness campaign. Rider said Caltrans will provide updates through the various project phases.

According to state records, Dobler Ranches, LP changed ownership in November 2019 from Carl and Kenneth Dobler to K & A Management, LLC., of which the Doblers are listed as owners. Timus Taylor Family Limited Partnership also changed ownership in November 2019 from two revocable trusts, Stephen Cameron Taylor and Mary Virginia Taylor McKay to Timus Holding, LLC.

 

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Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.