Travel during a road closure 101

     The best way to avoid traffic headaches is to not go there in the first place.

     Some Boulder Creek residents are using that philosophy as they wait for repairs to be completed on Highway 236, between Acorn Drive No. 3 and No. 4.

     The road was undermined during March storms. To rebuild it, Caltrans and its contractor on Monday closed the highway that’s used by 2,000 to 2,500 cars daily.

     Residents like Julie Jacobs of Anchor Court, a road nearly two miles north of the road work, are planning their trips ahead of time.

     “I get to telecommute on Tuesdays and Thursdays regularly because I live so far away from the office,” said the five year resident of the area who works in San Mateo. “I usually run my errands on my telecommuting days, but with the closure, I will consolidate my trips and run errands after work.”

     Since the closure was announced a few weeks ago, Jacobs has been playing with the various routes available to her to see which one works best.

     She normally takes Highway 236 to downtown Boulder Creek, before heading north on Highway 9 to Skyline Boulevard and on to Highway 92, which drops her off in San Mateo. 

     But the construction has her looking at other options.

     “I drove Acorn Drive last week and I have no problem taking it, especially when there are flaggers,” she said. “I have no intention to drive the Waterman Gap side of Highway 236 because it’s too difficult of a drive -- too long and windy. I’d rather go via Half Moon Bay if I cannot take Acorn. That being said, I hate Jamison Creek Road. It is hard on my car and brakes. It’s scary and steep without guard rails and has a long one-way section with insufficient turnouts.”

     In the meantime, other residents in the area are arranging their day around traffic as much as possible.

     Cindy Jolley, of the narrow, curvy and mountainous Acorn Drive, said she’s planning her trips around peak travel times, as well as the traffic flow on her street, which has three flaggers directing traffic in each direction.

     The flaggers -- and California Highway Patrol officers alike -- will be on duty while construction crews are working, a Caltrans official said.

     While crews on site said most motorists have been understanding, flaggers have gotten yelled at by irate drivers trying to pass through the area. At one point Monday, a CHP officer issued a warning to a motorist who disobeyed the flagger and tried to drive through the construction zone.

     It is illegal to ignore traffic instructions given by a flagger, as well as drive around cones and flares. What’s more, Caltrans construction zones are double fine zones.

     Highway 236 will remain closed when crews go home each the day. Drivers are encouraged to use caution while traversing Acorn without the flaggers’ help.

     Remember, mountain driving rules from your Driver’s Handbook from the DMV while maneuvering through the nooks and crannies of the San Lorenzo Valley. The following vehicle code sections for driving on narrow and mountain roads are from the DMV's website,

Narrow Roadways 

21661.  Whenever upon any grade the width of the roadway is insufficient to permit the passing of vehicles approaching from opposite directions at the point of meeting, the driver of the vehicle descending the grade shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle ascending the grade and shall, if necessary, back his vehicle to a place in the highway where it is possible for the vehicles to pass.

Mountain Driving

21662.  The driver of a motor vehicle traveling through defiles or canyons or upon mountain highways shall hold the motor vehicle under control at all times and shall do the following when applicable: (a) If the roadway has no marked centerline, the driver shall drive as near the right-hand edge of the roadway as is reasonably possible. (b) If the roadway has insufficient width to permit a motor vehicle to be driven entirely to the right of the center of the roadway, the driver shall give audible warning with the horn of the motor vehicle upon approaching any curve where the view is obstructed within a distance of 200 feet along the highway.


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