Guest View: South Gilroy neighbors, prepare for more traffic

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Editor’s note: On June 2, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority Board of Directors will consider approving an addendum to the Highway 101 Improvement Project, which includes a new interchange at Highways 101 and 25. To view the report, visit bit.ly/3PViEar.

With this letter, I am expressing my concern regarding the Phase 1 proposal for the Highway 101/25 interchange. 

As it currently stands, Phase 1 would, at its beginning, close both the Mesa Road and Castro Valley connections to Highway 101. These closures would then divert all the traffic on Santa Teresa Boulevard to Thomas Road, a neighborhood thoroughfare, then to a one-lane roundabout at Luchessa, then across a very narrow two-lane bridge through a residential neighborhood down to Monterey Street. From there, traffic would continue on to the Monterey Street/101 connection. 

The traffic impact upon south Gilroy would be immense. There is an entire neighborhood that can only be accessed from Thomas Road and the increase in traffic would create challenging conditions as drivers attempt to enter and exit. There is also the increase in noise brought on by the traffic increase. Please keep in mind that the traffic Environmental Impact Report may not have included the 1,000-plus new homes along Santa Teresa Boulevard. These residents will either use Luchessa Avenue or Santa Teresa Boulevard to get to Highway 101 and will connect at the roundabout bottle neck.

This is a two-phase project which I predict will take decades to complete. In discussions with Mr. Lovato from VTA, I conclude that the closure details are still in flux as is the expected duration of completing Phase 1. Phase 2 will not begin until some undetermined time in the future, presumably after Phase 1 is completed. This has the effect of prolonging the traffic impact on south Gilroy neighborhoods until the entire project is completed. I am not challenging the necessity of this project, just how it is being executed.

I see the collateral damage to our neighborhood as being unnecessarily prolonged. I see the phasing as backwards. To minimize collateral damage, first push Santa Teresa Boulevard through to where it would abut the new overpass. Then close the accesses to Highway 101. In doing so, the traffic impact to our neighborhoods would be cut in half. An even better approach would be to run both phases concurrently. The Governor says we have a huge surplus of funds.

Road conditions along Thomas Road and that portion of Monterey Street between Luchessa Avenue and the Highway 101 interchange are in dire need of repair. Is VTA stepping up to repair and resurface these roads prior to closing our 101 access points? I think we know the answer to that question. Is VTA offering to expand the Luchessa Bridge for traffic flow and safety reasons? Same answer. A winning hand is determined by how well one plays their cards. 

Please, quickly reconsider your phasing execution of this project, and consider those who will be affected by the collateral impacts.

Robert Weaver is a resident of Gilroy.

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