Bike path, roundabout change Hecker Pass

NEW NEIGHBORHOOD East of the Gilroy Municipal Golf Course, the North Hecker Pass Residential Cluster will see the development of 72 new homes. Picture by: Bryce Stoepfel

The new houses and new businesses that have been replacing fields of crops and flowers along Hecker Pass Road (Highway 152) over the past several years have posed new traffic challenges for the city of Gilroy and the state of California.

The city has provided a summary of new traffic projects along the route.

Topping the list is the Hecker Pass Bicycle Path, expected to be built this fall.

“Without the widening of Hecker Pass Highway, there was a need to identify an alternate solution for east-west bicycle conveyance along the northern portion of the project area,” said city planners. A 12-foot-wide multi-use path, south of the tree line, will complete a looped system around the perimeter of the mostly residential development.

Also slated for construction this fall is a roundabout in the middle of Highway 152 just east of the Gilroy Golf Course. The intersection was initially proposed as a signalized intersection. “Roundabouts have shown to be a safer method of intersection control, and Caltrans has been supportive of this intersection design modification,” said the city.

The city’s General Plan originally had called for widening the two-lane highway to a four-lane expressway. This plan was dropped because it would have required the removal of most of the trees lining the south side of the road, “which would have affected the rural character of the Hecker Pass area,” the city reported.  

For the intersection of Hecker Pass/First Street and Santa Teresa to meet the city traffic standards will require a second eastbound and westbound through lane, officials said.

The city is seeking Caltrans approval of a second eastbound, westbound and northbound left-turn lane as part of the state’s First Street paving project. In the past, the department has explored the potential use of roundabouts at the First Street and Santa Teresa intersection. However, after further review, it was determined that a roundabout was not a feasible intersection control at Santa Teresa, and the traffic signal will remain.

The mixed-use residential-commercial Hecker Pass project approved by the City Council last month will not overload the Lone Oak Lane neighborhood, city planner said. “Analysis has shown that Lone Oak Lane has adequate capacity to accommodate the expected project traffic,” which also will feature pedestrian walkways, and crossing improvements.

Additionally, First Street will be widened east of Santa Teresa to accommodate traffic from the 202-unit Eagle Garden Apartments to be built on vacant land just east of Santa Teresa. This will provide for three eastbound through lanes along the project frontage.