This article was written by BenitoLink intern Juliana Luna
On Dec. 15, the Council of San Benito County Governments (COG) Board of Directors received their monthly construction project reports from Caltrans District 5.
Hwy 25/156 roundabout construction work is taking place behind protective concrete barriers.
Caltrans former project manager Brandy Rider told BenitoLink in August 2021 that the roundabout planned at that intersection will be the first of its kind in California. The design known as a turbo roundabout is 240 feet in diameter, includes raised dividers to keep motorists from changing lanes, and uses overhead and road markings for navigation.
According to Caltrans, this roundabout project aims to reduce the number and severity of collisions at the intersection of Highways 25 and 156 where the current intersection has been experiencing a high number of broadside and rear-end collisions.
The contractor for this $10.7 million construction project is Graniterock of San Jose and the project is scheduled to be completed in fall 2023.
Hwy 156 widening
The Hwy 156 Improvement Project construction timeline is currently on schedule to be completed in fall 2023. The project occurs during the bird nesting season which begins Feb. 1, so the contractor will trim and remove dead trees chosen by a registered forester, said Orchid Monroy-Ochoa, chief of regional planning at Caltrans.
San Juan Bautista is considering design options to avoid the need for right-of-way acquisition for the 156/Alameda eastbound right turn channelization, but is also negotiating with the land owner in case the acquisition is needed, Monroy-Ochoa said.
“They’re looking into both options, in case they need to purchase and design for it because we don’t want to move forward without purchasing,” Monroy-Ochoa said.
The Hwy 156 Improvement Project covers the construction of a four-lane expressway immediately south of the existing Hwy 156 alignment. This 5.2-mile project will begin in San Juan Bautista at The Alameda and end just east of the Hwy 156 Business Route (Fourth Street) in Hollister.
The purpose of the $105.9 million expansion is to relieve traffic congestion on Hwy 156 and “reduce peak hour traffic congestion and save millions in vehicle operating and accident costs,” according to the Caltrans website. The project is funded through local traffic impact fees and the statewide transportation and improvement program.
Caltrans estimates the project will save $34.6 million in accident and vehicle operating costs over 20 years; 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 Hollister Clean California project has been advertised since Dec 12. with a bid opening set for Jan. 24. The project looks to install beautification, transportation art and safety measure enhancement on Hwy 25 from Sunset Drive to Santa Ana Road.
Hwy 25 widening
“At the project development team meeting we had, the Caltrans project engineer provided a few conceptual design overviews for Hwy 25 Expressway Conversion project,” said Terry Thompson, Caltrans District 5 project manager. “We have issued permits to enter over 80 properties just so we can perform environmental studies on the area.”
Caltrans and the COG held early discussions about incorporating the project into the framework of the Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure (CAPTI).
“So we’re investigating modifications that can be made to make this project in mind closer to CAPTI,” said Thompson.
The project is separated into a north and south segment, with the latter being the primary focus. This includes the Highway 25/156 interchange, and a new four-lane segment from Hudner Lane to San Felipe Road west of the existing route.
The north segment of the project would include constructing only two northbound lanes and using the two existing lanes for southbound traffic.
The south segment is further broken down into four areas: the Highway 25/156 interchange; San Felipe Road to Highway 156; Highway 156 to the Santa Clara county line; and from the county line to Bloomfield Avenue.
There were no updates for the Hwy 25 curve alignment, 101 Southbound connector extension and Rocks Road/Hwy 101 Wildlife Connectivity projects.
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