152, 156 flyover project appears back on track

Gilroy
– The on-again, off-again construction plans of a flyover at the
intersections of highways 152 and 156 appears to be on again thanks
to a $284 billion transportation bill passed by the U.S. House
Representatives.
Gilroy – The on-again, off-again construction plans of a flyover at the intersections of highways 152 and 156 appears to be on again thanks to a $284 billion transportation bill passed by the U.S. House Representatives.

The Transportation Equity Act includes $13.9 million to reconfigure the intersection and build a flyover ramp for motorists traveling eastbound on Highway 152 across Highway 156.

The overpass is needed because during heavy traffic, “good Samaritan” motorists heading east on 152 from Gilroy often stop at the intersection – although they have no stop or yield sign – to let stacked-up westbound drivers make the turn on to 156. This causes eastbound vehicles to back up all the way to Gilroy, about 13 miles.

The project was promised in the 1996 Measure B, but that half-cent sales tax couldn’t cover the costs. Many feared it would be further delayed after the cash-strapped state rejected funding for it early this year, but the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in March decided to spend $11.5 million in federal funds on the junction.

But Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal for the fiscal year starting July 1 includes siphoning about $3 billion dollars from Proposition 42, a voter-approved ballot measure that sets aside fuel tax revenue for highway improvement projects. That left the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in limbo and threatened to delay the project for four more years. The total cost of the project is about $30 million.

If the federal bill survives the U.S. Senate intact, the overpass will be completed in October 2006, a VTA spokeswoman said Thursday. Other local projects in the bill include $2 million for a feasibility study for constructing a highway linking the Central Valley with the Bay Area and $3.7 million for safety improvements along Highway 25.

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