The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) held a virtual community meeting on June 9 to discuss the proposed $100 million Hwy. 101/Route 25 Interchange that is slated to begin construction in late 2023 and be completed in 2026. It’s the first phase of a larger Hwy. 101 improvement between Monterey Road in Gilroy and Route 129 near San Juan Bautista, which was last discussed publicly in 2013.
The work will be completed in phases as funding becomes available. It will focus on the newly designed 101/25 interchange north of the existing interchange near Gilroy.
VTA Project Manager Karsten Adams said the last time there was an update of the 101-widening project was in 2013. Chadi Chazbek, a consultant project manager with Kimberly-Horne, explained the interchange portion of the larger project. It would involve widening Highway 101 from four to six lanes between Monterey Road and Route 129; connecting Route 25 from Castro Valley Road to Santa Teresa Boulevard near Gavilan College; building a bridge on Route 25 over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks; constructing a flood bridge west of the tracks, as well as pedestrian and bike connections.
Chazbek said the driveways to private property on both sides of Hwy. 101 north of Route 25 will be closed off and frontage roads will take their place. Bicycle lanes would allow travel in each direction along Route 25, and because there are no frontage roads along 101, it’s considered an expressway rather than a freeway, so bicycles will be permitted in either direction.
Adams explained the first phase of the project will include a portion of the interchange. He said each phase is based on available funding because there is not enough to pay for the entire widening project. He said the interchange was built in 1988 as a temporary project basically to prevent left turns across Hwy. 101. He said the project is needed because of increased traffic demands and the too short length of the southbound 101 off-ramp onto Route 25. He noted that the collision rates on the ramps from Route 25 to Hwy. 101 are higher than the state average, but did not provide the number. BenitoLink requested the statistics from Caltrans but have yet to respond.
According to the presentation, the objectives of the 101/25 interchange phase one are to improve connectivity between Route 25 and Hwy. 101; improve traffic operations along the two roadways with added ramp storage and signal lights; enhance safety within the interchange area by reducing ramp backups onto southbound Hwy. 101; provide improved access for safer merges; and support the overall future interchange configuration, including Hwy. 101 and Route 25 widening, and future Hwy. 152 improvements between Hwy. 101 and Route 156.
The project will be divided into three regions. Within the illustration below the red colors represent the new bridges, the blue colors represent the main roadways, green represents the ramps, and the orange colors are new driveways.
The southbound ramps will be widened, and a signal light will be located at the top of the ramp. At the intersection Route 25 will be widened to four lanes, but the southbound portion will be a single lane because of less traffic. There will also be bicycle lanes on both sides of Route 25 in the intersection as well as a signal for bicyclists. Bicyclists are already permitted to enter the southbound lane onto Hwy. 101 and an additional lane will be added to permit them to travel northbound parallel to Hwy. 101.
The new southbound ramp (green) onto Route 25 will be extended to 2,000 feet to Castro Valley Road, which will be closed to Hwy. 101, as will Mesa Road, which will end in a cul-de-sac. It will exit as a single lane as it does now but will widen into two lanes near the intersection. The two-lane bike path (purple) will run from the intersection to Castro Valley Road. Because the driveway to the private property will be closed, a road (orange) will be constructed from those properties to Castro Valley Road.
The northbound on ramp to US 101 will be moved slightly to the north to accommodate a widened off ramp onto SR 25 that will go under the overpass instead of melding into SR 25 as it now does. There will be a barrier between the two lanes. There will be a signal light at the intersection onto SR 25. Driveway access to the Garlic Shoppe on the right of the onramp will be eliminated and a new road (orange) will travel south parallel to the SR 25 on ramp.
With the closing of Castro Valley and Mesa roads, traffic would be routed to Santa Teresa Boulevard, past Gavilan College to Thomas Road, to Chestnut and then Monterey Road.
In the future, Santa Teresa Blvd. will be extended from Castro Valley Road to US 101. Because of insufficient funds this section will not be a part of phase 1. VTA is seeking federal funding and it’s anticipated the environmental studies might begin as soon as 2022.
Adams said the project is currently in the design and environmental addendum phase. The vertical line on the illustration represents where the project is as of June 9. He said SB 1 funds are paying for both phases and the project will be completed in early 2026.
Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez, who listened in to the community meeting, has been involved with Council of San Benito County Governments (COG) and the planning for the 101/25 interchange as well as Route 25 to Hollister, and Route 156 between San Juan Bautista and Hollister. He said COG pushed to have the interchange built first and that the new ramps will be temporary (from 10 to 20 years). Eventually, he said, there will be six-lane flyovers—at a cost of $300 million—that will allow drivers to exit in the fast lane onto Route 25.
Route 25/Route 156 projects
He said COG is concentrating on the environmental impact studies for the section of road near Hollister of San Felipe Road and Route 156 that will be widened to four lanes, as well as an overpass over Route 25 at Route 156. But before the overpass can be built, there will be a temporary traffic circle because the intersection has had numerous fatal collisions. He said construction on the traffic circle should begin in 18 months and, hopefully, the overpass will be built six years after the traffic circle is completed.
Velazquez estimated the widening of Route 25 from the county line to Route 156, which could cost more than $300 million from Measure G, would be completed in eight to 10 years.
“We’re working with VTA to combine 152 and 25 as far south as we can get it,” he said. “It will be six lanes past Shore Road, but we just don’t know yet how far past Shore Road it will be. At that point, it will veer off toward 156, and that’s where 25 will merge into it, well into our county.”
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