Land Use

OPINION: Getting traffic off of Hollister area roads

How we could reduce auto and truck traffic on Hollister roads by making better use of our local railroad branch line (The Hollister Industrial Lead)

It is not a new idea to have a commuter rail line to Hollister. It might be worthwhile to float a trial balloon using the existing Hollister branch line.

It is about 15 miles by rail from the Hollister cannery area to Gilroy. If one of the CalTrain trains that operate from Gilroy could be extended to Hollister on a trial basis, it could give an indication of whether there would be sufficient ridership to upgrade the Hollister industrial lead. There would need to be a temporary passenger platform somewhere on the line, with parking and bus service. Another obstacle is that much of the Hollister Industrial Lead is FRA exempt (10 mph maximum). This means that the trip from Hollister to Gilroy would take up to 90 minutes. If the auto commute to Gilroy gets bad enough, there might be support for such an extension.

Truck Traffic

There are three freight movements from Watsonville to Hollister each week, with moves to Gilroy and points north as needed. Much of this traffic consists of 55 gallon cans of tomatoes and other canned goods to and from local warehouses near the cannery. This is heavy freight and it is good to have it off of our highways.

Much of the traffic to Hollister retail establishments consists of similar heavy items in boxes, cans and bottles. There is perishable meat, dairy, produce, etc. that needs to move by truck. With careful coordination, the non-perishable items on our store shelve could move by rail. This would require incentives for local businesses. and it should be coordinated with CalTrans, which does much of the local road maintenance.

But there is the potential to greatly reduce road maintenance and improve traffic flow.The city and county should be open to exploring this option as local traffic becomes more congested.

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San Benito County property owner since 1984.