At the Mobility Partnership Committee meeting on Feb. 23, Caltrans gave updates on near-term projects intended to ease traffic congestion at the junction of Highway 101 and Highway 25, as well as reduce the number of accidents on Highway 25, in part caused by left turns from Bolsa Road.
Caltrans implemented a temporary no-left-turn program at that intersection, which is in effect from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Based on a substantial reduction in the now-illegal left turns, Caltrans is seeking to make the turn restriction permanent. As the signage indicating the restriction is currently installed, no additional funds are needed to make the change permanent.
The Mobility Partnership Committee is made up of elected officials from San Benito and Santa Clara counties.
An initial study was released on March 12, 2021, totaling the number of left turns from Bolsa Road during its peak traffic hours of 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. over six different weeks between Aug. 10, 2020, and Jan 29, 2021.
The first count, taken during the week of Aug. 10, 2020, averaged 125 illegal turns a day. The final count before the report was issued, taken during the week of Jan. 25, 2021, averaged 10 a day.
A second report, issued Sept. 7, 2021, included two more counts, done during the weeks of March 15, 2021, which averaged 21 turns a day, and April 12, 2021, which averaged 45 turns a day.
For five of the eight weeks counted, Fridays saw the highest number of turn violations. In the final count in April, for example, the four days leading up to Friday averaged 19 turn violations. That Friday, 146 violations were counted, bringing the average up to 45 for the week. The highest violation day in the count was also a Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, when there were 162 violations.
During the five months of the study, the through traffic on southbound Highway 25 increased from 1,202 cars in August to 1,294 cars in April.
During the same Mobility Partnership meeting, Valley Transit Authority (VTA) statistics on traffic accidents and fatalities were released for another trouble spot: the segment of Highway 152 running between Highways 101 and 156. The statistics covered only the years 2015 through 2019, but showed a consistent increase in total accidents as well as fatalities.
According to the chart, there were a total of 32 accidents in 2015, with two fatalities. In 2019, accidents rose to 54 incidents, with eight fatalities.
VTA Senior Management Analyst Rebecca DeLeon later provided more detailed data to BenitoLink, including figures for 2020, which were not in the report given at the conference. That year, there were 40 accidents and six fatalities.
DeLeon said the figures for 2020 were not included in the report because of COVID-19 travel impacts. She said shelter-in-place orders and travel restrictions resulted in an uncharacteristic decrease in the number of trips taken.
The goal of the studies and project designs are to reduce the number of trucks using that section of Highway 152 and reroute them to Highway 25 instead.
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