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Fund it, build it, reader says
On Monday, Street Smarts asked readers for ideas on ways to unravel Santa Cruz County's gridlock. Many suggestions came in. Here are the traffic congestion busting thoughts of Robert Hull: Solving today’s traffic problems requires updating many parts of our transit system. We suffer from, 'We didn’t build it and they came anyway.' It is unrealistic to assume that by not building, they will not come. We should look at the problems of Santa Clara County and how they solved them. In the 80s, I-280 was six lanes of constant gridlock. To get through, many commuters center-lined by driving motorcycles. In 1985, voters of Santa Clara County passed a 1/2 cent sales tax to fund transit. Today, I-280 has ten lanes in places. CA-85 provides a viable alternate route. Most of the center lining of I-280 is a faint memory. Bear Creek Road has an overpass with CA-17. This interchange provides a safe entrance and exit with CA-17. Overall, the changes have helped. Yes, light rail was poorly designed. It didn't go to either shopping or work. The only place it seemed to connect are all the county jails. However, today, residents of Santa Clara County can travel throughout the county quickly and safely. I suggest we fund a 1/2 cent sales tax to improve our transportation system. With these funds we can safely improve our state highways: CA-17, CA-1, CA-35, CA-9, CA-152, CA-129 and even the little bit of G11! We should request that CA-17 become part of the interstate system as I-880. More funds could be secured to make this a safe highway. In some places, we simply need more lanes. Other improvements would be longer merge lanes, metering lights and diamond lanes. Mission Street can be improved by prohibiting many of the left turns that block traffic. Other improvements could be long distance express bus service from Santa Cruz to San Francisco and Oakland. Also we should have an express bus to the Gilroy Outlets on weekends. We could make a bike path over the mountain using the abandoned rail line between Felton and Los Gatos. I think light rail is a great idea. It needs to connect our schools, shopping and work locations. This must include UCSC, Cabrillo College, Capitola Mall, downtown Watsonville and downtown Santa Cruz. I know this is a big list of changes. However, to solve our traffic problems, we need to discard the obstructionist mantra of 'do not build anything.' A 1/2 cent sales tax that benefits all of the county is the way to get past the frustration of gridlock. Missed the Universal Grapevine I was supposed to appear on Universal with Bruce Bratton Tuesday night but, ironically, I got caught in traffic caused by a deadly crash on Highway 17. Bruce and I have set the new date of Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m. on KZSC 88.1 FM and www.kzsc.org. Keep your suggestions coming in.