The city’s buffered bicycle lane and “complete streets” traffic calming experiment on Monterey Road will end earlier than planned, but motor traffic will remain restricted to only one lane through late October to make room for construction through the downtown.
Construction on the Monterey Road “streetscape” project will begin July 13, according to Morgan Hill Communications Manager Maureen Tobin. That’s earlier than expected due to a conflict between the contractor’s proposed construction schedule and the city’s original six-month plan to test out a narrowed Monterey Road with lower vehicle capacity.
As a result, the current buffered bicycle lane currently on Monterey Road from Dunne to Main Avenue will be taken over by construction crews from July 13 to Aug. 21. Street parking will be unavailable on both sides of Monterey Road during this time.
This first phase of the Monterey Road improvement project will consist of irrigation and electrical upgrades for existing brick planter boxes and lights along the sidewalks, concrete work, repaving and lane striping, according to city staff.
Once that is completed Aug. 21, the second phase of the project will get under way and last until Oct. 20, Tobin said. That phase will reverse construction to the inside lanes on Monterey Road (those closer to the median), which will consist of similar irrigation and electrical upgrades for the downtown median strip, landscaping, grading, concrete work, installation of benches and bollards, repaving and striping.
From Aug. 21 to Oct. 20, the lane that now serves bicyclists will become the lone motor vehicle lane on each side of Monterey Road through downtown. No bicycle lane will be available throughout both phases, but street parking will be reopened during the second phase.
Pedestrian access will remain unrestricted during the construction, city staff said.
Some construction will take place overnight and in the early mornings (9 p.m. to 6 a.m.) to limit the impact on local business.
The City Council approved the buffered bicycle lane as a temporary, six-month experiment earlier this year in an effort to determine if limiting vehicle traffic to a single lane through downtown would make the downtown more pedestrian, bicycle and family friendly.
The trial started Feb. 18, and was originally scheduled to continue until the middle of August. However, city staff decided last week that it’s best to shorten the experiment in order to accommodate the streetscape construction schedule.
During the experiment, the city and consultant Alta Planning and Design have collected data such as vehicle speeds, pedestrian activity, noise levels, traffic volumes, cycling lane usage, parking occupancy and other metrics.
“After careful consideration, we decided it made sense to end the data collection and finalize the (complete streets) project,” Tobin said. “ We have collected lots of data and feel comfortable that we can provide Council with a complete report for a final decision.”
The five-member city council will hear a final report at the Aug. 5 meeting, which is four weeks earlier than originally planned, Tobin added.
No sooner than October, the council will decide whether to make the one-lane, buffered bicycle lane configuration a permanent part of the downtown strip. The streetscape construction project will not determine the final number of vehicle lanes on Monterey Road.
In a halfway point report to the council in May, city staff said data measurements thus far showed motor vehicle traffic volumes on Monterey Road dropped by 14 percent, while the number of vehicles on Butterfield Boulevard—which bypasses downtown on the east—went up. Bicycle traffic had increased, while pedestrian activity declined.
The city will not continue to take these measurements during the Monterey Road construction because it “creates too many variables that are all very temporary and specific to construction,” Tobin said.
The project will cost about $2.1 million, with Stockbridge General Contracting performing the work. It will be funded by bond proceeds left over from the Redevelopment Agency, which was closed by the state in 2012. The council approved the contract at the June 17 meeting.
The temporary complete streets trial cost about $250,000, also funded by former RDA proceeds, according to city staff.