Highway 236 to close June 22 for slipout repairs

     Thomas Moore has been living and working in the San Lorenzo Valley for 25 years. During all that time, he’s seen Mother Nature take down trees, power lines and even mountain sides.      So, he’s not fazed by Caltrans’ plan to close Highway 236 at Acorn Drive to repair a slipout that occurred during a storm in early March. With the help on a traffic light, the southbound lane has been carrying both directions of traffic ever since.      “Caltrans isn’t doing this to hurt anyone,” he said. They’re doing it to repair the road that’s a vital connection to town. Without the repair, the road will get worse and would be closed indefinitely if they don’t fix it.”      Next week, contractor Anderson Pacific, of Santa Clara, will prepare to repair the road at a cost of $500,000 to $750,000, Caltrans officials said. On Monday, June 22, the highway will be shut down to traffic in both directions for three-to-five weeks. Message signs will alert motorists of the closure.      “We’re going to work as efficiently as possible,” said Barry Dunlap, Caltrans’ project manager. “It will reopen to one-way traffic controls as soon as we can.”      Crews will work six days weekly, excluding Sundays, from dawn until dusk, he said.      The highway must close during repairs because heavy equipment, including cranes, excavators and drill rigs, will be used, he added. With the road width in the area at 11 feet, keeping the road open is not an option, Dunlap said. One side of Highway 236 is a 30-foot bank and on the other, is “the hole,” he said.      While residents, like Moore, are taking the closure in stride, others wish road crews could keep the road open.      Mark Mullins lives on Fallen Leaf Drive, about a half mile above the closure. The man who works in Scotts Valley said the closure would add 40-minutes to his commute.      “I have to take Jamison Creek to Empire Grade to Alba and Mount Hermon roads,” he said. “I’d rather deal with the one lane road for getting to and from work on time.”      Caltrans urges motorists to use Highway 9 at Waterman Gap to access the upper portion of Highway 236, while telling locals to use the route they are comfortable with.      While emergency responders said the closure will add to their response times, area businesses are concerned the detour could impact their bottom line.      “We’re trying to determine a plan of action,” said Josh Hessek, general manager for the Boulder Creek Country Club. Summertime is the resort’s busiest season for golfing, he said.      Hessek hoped visitors wouldn’t get frustrated with the detour and avoid his business altogether. He also wished Caltrans could hold off on repairs until after the tourists leave this fall.      Caltrans is doing the work now, Dunlap said, to make use of the good weather, long days and to avoid interfering with the start of school.      Highway 236 sees between 2,000 and 2,500 vehicle trips each day, according to Caltrans.
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