Motorists who drive Highway 17 may have noticed something different about the gateway that connects Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties.
The movable barrier is gone and the dust is starting to clear between the Summit and Glenwood Cut-off.
And that means work is almost complete, nearly one month early and $500,000 under budget.
“We still have the striping, which will take place on July 13 and a few other odds and ends,” said Jennifer Wilson, Caltrans’ project manager. “To the public, it will look like we are done by the end of that week, but we will probably still have one week of work left that they won’t notice -- like grouting inside the drainage inlets.”
One of the last jobs completed before the holiday weekend was paving.
In March 2008, Caltrans embarked on its latest plan to make Highway 17 safer for motorists. Armed with $8.2 million, Pavex Construction of San Jose was hired to shear off part of the mountain to widen the right-hand shoulder from one foot to eight feet and install a retaining wall, as well as install a new drainage system and median divide.
The wider shoulders serve three functions, Wilson said. One is to provide motorists more line-of-sight around the curves, making it easier for them to stop in time for stopped vehicles ahead.
A second function of the added shoulder room is to give vehicles that are going out of control or trying to avoid a collision more wriggle space to recover.
And the last function is to provide a travel lane for emergency responders who are trying to get to collisions. Previously, motorists had to split apart, allowing space down the middle of the highway for law enforcement, as well as fire and medical personnel.