Aptos Village sewer project has traffic backed up for miles, reader says

Dear Street Smarts, Q: Thanks for your great column, I always enjoy reading it. Thursday's column on road work in the county did not mention the large undergrounding project that has been going on for weeks in Aptos Village along and near Soquel Drive and Trout Gulch Road. I am very interested in this project being done in my neighborhood. It appears to be sewer work. Can you please tell me what is being done and by whom? Also, a time line for completion would be appreciated. Lastly, does it have anything to do with the upcoming Aptos Village project by Barry Swenson? Thanks again for your help, Joe Cook, Aptos A: Curiosity about this project abounds. Q: I want to bring up a BIG problem with traffic backup where road work is being done in two areas on each side of Aptos Village. Both areas are limited to one lane only, making cars wait for construction vehicles and the oncoming cars taking turns at each location. I am a grandmother who picks up my grandkids after school at Valencia Elementary. The only way in and out is through this horrible traffic and construction area. On Wednesday, it took me over a half hour just to get out. Parents are late picking up their children and school buses are being delayed. When I finally reached the corner of Soquel and State Park drives, I noticed that the cars were also backed up down Soquel for about another half mile to the north. It just seems that whoever is doing this street work should observe that there is an elementary school with only one way to get to. Thank you for your attention, Shan Carlson, Santa Cruz A: This is a sewer project that has nothing to do with the Barry Swenson Aptos Village project, according to county officials. It is an effort to replace 3,137 feet of “dilapidated” 50-year-old sewer lines beneath portions of the village. Specifically, the project includes Soquel Drive between Spreckles Drive and the Trestle, Trout Gulch Road, as well as Valencia, Aptos and Bernal streets. The Santa Cruz County Sanitation District has contracted with Bay Pacific Pipelines, Inc., of Novato to perform the work, which is occurring between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. from Wednesday, January 2 to Tuesday, May 14, weather permitting. “There's a lot going on out there,” said John Presleigh, county public works director. “There's a lot of utilities that were on top of our utilities that cause some issues. Where we have a deep underground sanitation line, apparently Soquel Water put a water line on top of it so they are out there working to relocate that. We are there as well. It's a complicated project, with very small streets so we're asking the public to be very patient.” If people want to be able to flush their toilets, this project must happen, an official told Street Smarts. “We have these big sewer lines that are essentially worn out,” Presleigh said. “They've been out there for a long time, through a couple earthquakes so its time to replace them and get them out of there to make sure there's no infiltration and no leaks.” The project is part of a larger sewer replacement effort occurring countywide, starting from south to north, Presleigh said. Meanwhile, the Santa Cruz area CHP office is monitoring the project's traffic impact, especially during the pickup and drop off times at the 500 student Valencia Elementary. While traffic congestion is bad, there have been no reports of collisions or other issues, said Officer Sarah Jackson, spokesperson. Jackson suggested people doing business in or traveling through the village:
  • Traverse during non-peak travel times, when possible;
  • Try the “back way” access to Valencia Road from Freedom Boulevard; and
  • Allow plenty of extra time.
“If you are 'cutting it close' and happen upon traffic delays like this, your chances of being late are nearly guaranteed,” she said. Keep abreast of this and other county road projects at http://www.sccroadclosure.org/.
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