Housing / Land Use

OPINION: Business expansions are slowing the commute

Expansion of businesses on Highway 25 in southern Santa Clara County is impacting the local commute

Okay, here's the scoop; several years ago, two of the large-scale operations in southern Santa Clara County were allowed to expand without providing any traffic mitigation measures: Zanker Recycling (known as Z Best) and Uesugi Farms. Uesugi expanded with a larger shipping facility, and Z Best was allowed to greatly expand the capacity of their footprint, and the amount of material they could take in. 

Fast forward several years, and we're seeing some of the effects of that in our commute to and from work. The afternoon traffic jam now extends to just beyond the Z Best facility, and at any time during the day, you may see slow traffic through that stretch of Highway 25 as traffic is forced to slow for incoming and outgoing trucks. It's not uncommon for a car traveling at the posted limit to come around the corner and see a truck entering the roadway at 5 mph, often causing a quick response from the commuter to avoid the collision. 

When the first expansion became apparent to me, I spoke with our local (District 5) CalTrans office for answers. Their jurisdiction ends at the San Benito County border, so no help there.

District 4, the responsible party for any oversight of the area, referred me to the Santa Clara County planning. CalTrans District 4 management stated that any decision regarding traffic issues would have been the responsibility of Santa Clara county, and any concerns they had could have been brought to CalTrans for review. The call to Santa Clara County planning didn't go much better. They claimed that it was CalTrans' responsibility to review the expansions, as this is a state highway and CalTrans has jurisdiction. So, they each blamed each other — great.

Today, we're faced with yet another expansion of Z Best. They've applied for the ability to accept a significant increase in material once again, and the traffic study that has been commissioned for this expansion appears to state (again) that traffic mitigation will not be necessary. Of course, San Benito County residents, the expanded traffic means very little to the Santa Clara county residents, and thus seems to translate to a lack of concern for the increased traffic from Santa Clara county offices. They're not the residents affected by this, we are. 

I'm putting this out there for all of the commuters of Highway 25 north and south; get in touch with the Santa Clara County offices and voice your concerns. Let them know that an expansion of this facility should require acceleration and deceleration lanes and/or turn pockets out of the traffic lanes for trucks entering and exiting Z Best. Let them know that you're not OK with another five, 10 or 30 minutes of travel time on Highway 25.

It's our commute that is impacted, let them know we see what they're doing and don't agree (if, of course, you don't agree).

Thomas C

I am a local real estate appraiser and sales agent, and have been a San Benito county resident since 1999. I follow local politics, traffic and public issues, and enjoy the local events.