Widen Highway 1 south of Salinas Road, reader says

Dear Street Smarts, Q: I have been watching the construction of the new interchange at Highway 1 and Salinas Road. The work looks very nearly complete; however, I have one observation that doesn't seem to make any sense. It appears that Caltrans is going to keep Highway 1 as only two lanes, one in each direction, south of the new Salinas Road interchange. How can this possibly make any sense when we have two parallel two lane roads that have been built? Any light you can shed on this would be appreciated. Mark Janis, Aptos A: There are no plans to widen this stretch of Highway 1 in the immediate future, according Caltrans, but there are talks about doing it further down the line. So far, just a couple overlays to smooth out the ride is in the planning stages. Meanwhile, the project is coming along and should wrap up early next year. Last week, northbound motorists, who've been taking a detour since August of last year, were allowed to continue on Highway 1 by driving under the new Salinas Road overpass. The overpass was installed to improve safety for southbound drivers trying to make a left turn from the highway onto Salinas Road or making the left from Salinas Road onto southbound Highway 1. Begun in April 2010, this $30 million project includes a new frontage road, called Hilltop Road, along the west side of the highway from Jensen to Salinas roads. Prior to the start of the project, the intersection had been the scene of numerous crashes. Paid for with transportation bond money approved by voters in 2006, this project aims to save lives and reduce traffic delays. Mission Street congestion Last week, Street Smarts ran an email from a reader who complained about congestion on Mission at King streets. The reader asked that something be about it. Since then, several emails have come in from readers with various ideas of how to improve the flow of traffic. Those ideas include opening an eastern access to UC Santa Cruz, increasing Metro's presence on Mission to make it easier for people to do business without driving and enforce traffic laws. Meanwhile, Eric Easter, of E.T. Easter, Inc., a Santa Cruz-based civil engineering, structural design and surveying firm, wrote that left turns should be prevented “unless signalization is provided.” “It is not truly easy to implement because neighborhoods have to accept it, not to mention Caltrans,” he wrote. “Just look how it is applied in San Francisco. Another technique is smart progressive signals. These are just a few ideas.” Caltrans' traffic division is looking into Easter's “No Left Turn” suggestion and will respond in about two weeks. Meanwhile, Street Smarts is following up on some of the other ideas received. Stay tuned.
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