Pilot program aims to ease Hwy 25 congestion

In a six-month trial, left turns from Bolsa Road will be prohibited during afternoon rush hour.
Highway 101/25 interchange. Image from the Mobility Partnership meeting agenda packet.
Highway 101/25 interchange. Image from the Mobility Partnership meeting agenda packet.

Looking to ease congestion on Highway 25, three transportation agencies agreed to implement a pilot program preventing left turns from Bolsa Road onto the highway during the afternoon rush hour.

Caltrans announced the six-month trial at the March 4 meeting of the Mobility Partnership between the Council of San Benito County Governments (COG) and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). The program will begin at the end of March.

The left turn from Bolsa Road onto Highway 25 will be restricted on weekdays from 3-7 p.m. California Highway Patrol will enforce the new rule and monitor the intersection with cameras, which will also allow the transit agencies to collect data. Caltrans has identified the intersection—which motorists use to circumvent traffic at the 101/25 onramp—as one of the main causes for congestion and collisions on Highway 25.

Mobility Partnership members were also updated on the Highway 101-25 interchange and the New Trade Corridor, a connection between Highways 152 and 25. 

Peter Hernandez, San Benito County supervisor and COG director, said designs for the 101-25 interchange are still being discussed. One of the options included in the meeting’s agenda packet prohibits access to southbound Highway 101 from Highway 25. Instead, motorists would be required to get on northbound Highway 101 and exit at Monterey Road to take the onramp for southbound 101.

Phase 1 construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2021 and will be funded by Santa Clara County’s allocation of SB 1 funds. In the meantime, proposed short-term solutions for the gridlock include constructing an auxiliary lane between Castro Valley Road and the Highway 25 onramp. Costs vary between $1 million and $2 million.

At the meeting, Hernandez pointed out that there’s a Mobility Partnership special meeting planned for May with the trade corridor as the sole agendized item. The corridor is intended to provide trucks faster access to Highway 101 from Highway 152. 

According to the agenda packet, the trade corridor is sought to improve the movement of goods between Central Valley and North Central Coast regions; improve commuter routes between the Central Valley and employers in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas; and improve regional and recreational travel. 

At the May meeting, the Mobility Partnership expects to identify a possible trade corridor route from four alternatives. Hernandez said that before choosing a route, the partnership needs to define criteria such as costs, environmental impacts, right of way acquisitions and a wildlife corridor. 

Concerning San Benito County interests, Hernandez said one issue that needs to be weighed is whether it’s worth selecting options closer to the county’s commercial areas that would connect to Highway 25 further into the county. He said the more portions of Highway 25 the new trade corridor uses, the more funds (including grants) would be available to fund the widening project.

“It’s a huge opportunity in an already developed area,” Hernandez said. Among those opportunities, he said, is further utilizing the Hollister Municipal Airport. He also said it’s important for the public to be aware and engaged with the project in order to avoid overlooking possible negative effects.

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. He is USC Center for Health Journalism 2020 California Fellow.