The political stars were aligned just right for the long overdue
fix for the Pacheco Y.
The political stars were aligned just right for the long overdue fix for the Pacheco Y.
The fix is a flyover to ease the bottleneck that frequently occurs at the junction of Highways 152 and 156 near Casa De Fruta at the southeastern edge of Santa Clara County. The flyover was one of the traffic projects promised for Measure B funds, the half-cent sales tax extension that voters approved in 1996. But, with a cost of $35 million, it looked like there wouldn’t be enough money to pay for the project.
The intersection of Highways 152 and 156 is the site of chronic traffic jams that grow to nearly unbearable proportions on holiday weekends as westbound travelers try to turn left from 152 onto southbound 156. Good Samaritan motorists heading east often pause to let the stacked-up left turn lane empty, but that causes the 13-mile back-up on 152 all the way to Gilroy.
“The backup’s just terrible; everybody realized that,” County Supervisor Jim Beall – who grew up in Hollister and still has family there – told reporter Peter Crowley. “This project is really ready to go.”
It’s ready to go, as Beall put it, because several fortuitous occurrences the preposition of that happened at the same time. First County Supervisor Don Gage, who represents South County, became the supervisors’ representative to the Valley Transportation Agency. Gage made it clear to the suits at the VTA that fixing the 152/156 bottleneck was priority one.
“I insisted that, before we spend money in other areas, we finish up what we said were going to do with Measure B,” Gage said.
Good for him. The VTA has trimmed $12 million from the project’s price tag; it now comes in at $23 million. At the same time, Gage’s colleague at the Board of Supervisors, Beall, became a member of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Beall convinced his fellow directors to commit more than $11 million to the flyover project.
Meanwhile, in one of the few pluses we’ve ever seen from gerrymandering, U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Stockton, began traveling the 152/156 intersection to visit all parts of his disjointed congressional district. Pombo helped secure federal funds for the flyover.
When the flyover is complete in 2008, it will greatly ease congestion, travel time and danger for the 53,000 vehicles a day that use the connection between the Bay Area and the Central Valley.
So due to the alignment of the political stars, South Valley can finally look forward to the long overdue fix for one of the most treacherous roads in all of the Bay Area. We say thanks to our political stars: Beall, Pombo and especially Gage, who put their transportation dollars where their constituents’ cars are and will save lives as a result.