Improving a village

Traffic comes to a stop at one of two new arterial stop signs at Llagas Avenue as motorists drive west down San Martin Avenue August 29.

San Martin residents and businesses are mostly pleased with safety and aesthetic enhancements on a recently completed road project on one of the unincorporated town’s main thoroughfares.

The San Martin Avenue “pedestrian improvement project” was completed by the Santa Clara County Roads and Airports department earlier this summer at a cost of $623,307, according to County Associate Civil Engineer Bernardine Caceres. 

The project included new sidewalks for the first time on the stretch of San Martin Avenue between Depot Street and Llagas Avenue. It also included new curbs and gutters, driveway approaches to private properties, new drainage facilities, fire hydrants, street signs, pavement resurfacing and other improvements, Caceres said. 

Completed in parallel with the roadway improvements, one block south, the county also improved the stormwater drainage system on Spring Avenue between Lincoln and Llagas avenues. 

“The county selected the San Martin project for guaranteed sales tax funds, which are distributed to all jurisdictions on a formula basis,” Caceres said. “The funds are limited to pedestrian and bicycle improvements. This location had particular appeal because of the combination of destinations and adjacent land uses, with San Martin being the county’s most village-like community center in the unincorporated area.”

San Martin Planning Advisory Committee member Bob Cerruti said he personally called the county’s roads and airports crew to “congratulate” them on the improvements. 

“They did an outstanding job,” Cerruti said. “In the 28 years I’ve lived here, this is the most wonderful thing that has happened to our town. It’s nice, beautiful and well done.”

Cerruti and other residents contacted on a recent brief tour of the project couldn’t remember the last time the county worked on that stretch of San Martin Avenue. 

Fellow SMPAC member Diane Dean added that the two new stops on San Martin Avenue at Llagas Avenue, controlling eastbound and westbound traffic, were badly needed to slow down speeding motorists.

“I come through here several times a day,” said Dean, who has lived in San Martin for 23 years. “They worked on it continuously, and got it done.”

Two business owners on the stretch of improvements had mixed reviews of the project. 

Gordon Bentley, owner of Pacific Security and Fence Supply, said the project improved access to his business, which will allow his company to grow. He noted that county staff were refreshingly responsive to the needs and concerns of himself and other property owners along the project area. 

Bentley said that as a “thank you” to the county he is going to maintain landscaping between the new sidewalk and curb in front of his business. 

“Deliveries are easier, and we’re not stopping traffic,” Bentley said. “I couldn’t have been happier. Every single request we had down here was met.”

Jeffrey Moore, owner of San Martin Specialty Shop on San Martin Avenue, said he’s glad the county responded to his request to avoid building sidewalks in front of his welding and trailer repair shop. Doing so would have eliminated part of his work space, and likely forced him to move his business off the strip. 

But he still had reservations about the project, which disrupted his shop for about 2 1/2 months. 

“I was appreciative they allowed all the businesses to remain here, but nobody around here actually wanted the project done,” Moore said. “Curbs and sidewalks (for example) would be much more useful in the area where (San Martin/Gwinn Elementary) school would be using it. Very few people walk up and down San Martin Avenue.”