The community reviews the Highway 9/San Lorenzo Valley Transportation Corridor Plan
By Mary Andersen
The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC), Caltrans, Santa Cruz METRO, and County of Santa Cruz officials hosted the Highway 9/Transportation Corridor Plan Open House on Wednesday May 31, 2017 at Felton Community Hall. The public was invited to weigh in on potential transportation improvements to be funded by the November 2016 voter-passed Measure D, which earmarked $10 million specifically for the San Lorenzo Valley.
Meeting attendees spoke with multi-agency staff, viewed plans, and affixed post-it notes to large table-top maps to identify problem areas and offer ideas to improve transportation issues throughout the valley. Residents also prioritized projects using stickers to “vote” on items in order of perceived importance with a majority selecting walking and biking options to town centers and maintaining and enhancing the rural character of the valley. After these exercises, SCCRTC presented a slideshow providing further detail.
While an outline was crafted for Measure D in advance of the November 2016 election, community members are pleased to have been given an opportunity to help prioritize safety and mobility options including pedestrian, biking, driving, and bus transit. Anticipated deliverables for the San Lorenzo Valley include a safe pathway for students, bus transit stop, pavement damage and drainage repairs, and other improvements in front of the school campus on Hwy 9 in Felton in addition to items identified by the community at public meetings. The corridor plan will also expedite community concerns within Caltrans’ maintenance and major projects.
County planners view Highway 9 as the valley’s “main street” and the towns of Felton, Ben Lomond, and Boulder Creek as its economic centers. As agency goals are to expedite projects for safety and economic purposes, improvements are focused on the town cores along with Brookdale and the school campus along Highway 9. Planning has shown a focus on “multimodal transportation” projects – a buzzword for projects packaging diverse transportation options wrapped up in a single plan in alignment with sustainable community goals mapped out over the last decade.
Development and implementation of the Corridor Plan will make projects in the San Lorenzo Valley more competitive for state and federal grants. The county will become eligible for matching funds that could significantly increase the windfall for San Lorenzo Valley transportation projects beyond Measure D. Additionally, while community members have had good cause to be leery of Santa Cruz County tax measure outcomes in the past, the current plan promises to add to revenues rather than substitute existing allocations.
Fifth District Supervisor Bruce McPherson applauded the effort and stated that Measure D and the complementary passing of Senate Bill 1 in April this year will prove a boon for our region. “With the approval of Measure D for local road repairs, and approval of state legislation raising the gas tax, we are finally in a good position to be able to fix our roads,” said Supervisor McPherson. “It will take some time, but we’re on our way.”
San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District trustee, Jacqui Rice, said, “Student safety near the SLV tri-campus and access corridors is a primary concern. At this workshop, attendees consistently sited these specific areas on the SLV maps and during the open mic session. “With this plan, we are moving in a very positive direction in regard to student safety.”
Measure D is funded via a ½ cent sales tax for 30 years beginning April 2017. Other investment categories outside of the San Lorenzo Valley include the Highway 1 corridor, the coastal rail trail, the rail corridor, a Highway 17 wildlife crossing, and the Lift Line.
To learn more about the local project, how it was defined and analyzed, and plans for implementation, visit sccrtc.org. Contact the SCCRTC firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for their Highway 9 E-news and to submit comments about the plan.