Three significant road construction projects in varying stages of completion are causing major disruptions in traffic in the San Lorenzo Valley, in the name of road and safety improvements.
Since September, motorists have been subjected to one-lane traffic and lengthy delays along a quarter-mile stretch of Highway 9 just south of Holiday Lane, where Caltrans contractors are building a viaduct and installing upgraded guardrails.
Caltrans spokeswoman Susana Cruz said the $1.3 million project is intended to create a half bridge along the steep hillside upon which the roadway rests, in hopes of preventing a catastrophic landslide.
“It’s being proactive,” she said. “(Caltrans surveyors) saw some traces of cracks on the road and a deteriorated shoulder.”
Cruz said the site’s challenging topography means the work likely will not be completed before summer.
Though one-lane traffic and delays are expected for the duration of the project, Cruz said it should prevent worse headaches later.
Graham Hill Road at Lockewood Lane
Work began Aug. 28 to improve safety for those on foot and behind the wheel at the intersection of Lockewood Lane and Graham Hill Road.
Improvements to the intersection — including traffic signals and a wider roadway to accommodate a longer left-turn lane onto Lockewood Lane — are nearly complete, according to John Presleigh, director of the Santa Cruz County Department of Public Works.
“It’s moving pretty fast, actually,” Presleigh said. “It should be finished within a month — it depends on the timing of getting the poles.”
According to Senior Civil Engineer Jack Sohriakoff, crews have added improved crosswalk access ramps for pedestrians traveling to and from Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park lands. The ramps are designed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, he said.
A federal Highway Safety Improvement Program grant of about $450,000 paid for most of the work on the intersection, Presleigh said.
The remaining $170,000 cost is drawn from the county’s fund for highway safety lighting.
Sohriakoff estimated that the signals would be activated before the end of November.
“I think it’s a huge safety improvement for the people coming out of Lockewood (Lane),” Presleigh said. “(The safety conditions) were improved quite a bit.”
Graham Hill widening
A massive effort to expand the roadway and improve drainage along the steepest section of Graham Hill Road, between Quarry Road and Conference Drive in Felton, is nearly complete after almost two years of work.
The $2.7 million project, which began in early 2010, has widened the roadway entering Felton to allow 3 feet of shoulder on each side; added guardrails at the most treacherous curves; installed a modernized drainage system to replace old, often problematic drains; and added a 200-foot left-turn pocket outside of Roaring Camp Railroads.
“It’s been a long project, but they’re nearing completion,” Presleigh said.
Money from the California State Transportation Improvement Program and local road dollars paid for the improvements.
According to Senior Civil Engineer Russell Chen, after some minor adjustments in the pavement around the drainage inlets, all that remained to be done was the grooving of the road surface and to paint the stripes.
“It’s all weather-permitting,” Chen said. “If the weather holds up, we’ll be done next week.”
If the showers forecast for this week bypassed the construction area, he said the pavement would be grooved Thursday, Nov. 15, and Friday, Nov. 16, and painting could be scheduled Monday, Nov. 19.