Agencies seek more recognition, funding for Highway 101

Agencies seek more recognition, funding for Highway 101

Recognizing the importance of the U.S. 101 corridor in the 269
miles between the San Benito/Santa Clara County line south to the
Santa Barbara/Ventura county line, governmental agencies along the
Central Coast corridor plan to form a partnership to ensure the
vitality of the route.
Recognizing the importance of the U.S. 101 corridor in the 269 miles between the San Benito/Santa Clara County line south to the Santa Barbara/Ventura county line, governmental agencies along the Central Coast corridor plan to form a partnership to ensure the vitality of the route.

The goal is to raise the awareness of the corridor by promoting its statewide and national significance, while also seeking additional state and federal funding for its improvement.

“We’re trying to raise the level of importance of the 101 corridor to the state and the nation,” said Lisa Rheinheimer, executive director of the San Benito County Council of Governments, which is planning to enter into a memorandum of understanding with its sister agencies in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments and the Transportation Agency for Monterey County.

The agreement, which will be formally presented to COG at its Jan. 20 meeting, calls the highway a “critical goods movement corridor” and notes how it is the primary north-south transportation route when Interstate 5 is periodically closed due to storms or accidents. It also notes that 101 is an emergency escape route during natural disasters such as earthquakes, wildfires, tsunamis or during critical incidents at the Diablo Nuclear Power Plant.

The memorandum of understanding is designed “partly to attract additional funding,” Rheinheimer said, but also “for federal legislators to understand the importance of 101 in terms of industry, agriculture, tourism and national security. We want to send a unifying voice to those who make decisions about funding.”

Even if San Benito County does not receive immediate funding for the stretch of 101 that runs along the county’s western edge, improvements elsewhere along the highway “still helps us because there is a lot of interregional travel that goes on along 101,” she said.

Specific improvements along the corridor have not been identified by the nascent coalition of agencies, according to Rheinheimer, “because we’re looking at it more from a 30,000-foot level than ground level so far.”

The governmental groups have said that needed improvements range from widening and interchange improvements to “enhanced alternative travel mode opportunities along and across the highway,” according to a COG staff report.

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