Caltrans and RTC seek public help to improve Highway 9

Making Highway 9 in the Santa Cruz Mountains safer

FELTON, Calif. - On Tuesday night, transportation officials met with residents in the San Lorenzo Valley area to talk about how to make Highway 9 safer.

This is the first step of a study on the narrow and often congested corridor.

Officials asked the community to come up with a list of things they want done, and at the top of the list are safety and road access for all users, not just cars.

John Gallagher said traveling on Highway 9, especially during the rush hour, can be a nightmare.

"If you have to go to Soquel High School from here because your kid has to go from here, at 2:30 when they get out of school, and they have a 5 o'clock game, we are getting there at 4:15," Gallagher said. "That seems kind of crazy because you are only traveling 10 to 12 miles."

That's why during his daughter's volleyball game at San Lorenzo Valley High School, Gallagher stopped by the community presentation to share some of his concerns.

"People cannot come up and down Highway 9 on a bicycle safely; they cannot get up and down walking. If you have a child that lives in Felton and doesn't want to take the bus, they basically have to walk back ways from here and there that aren't safe," Gallagher said.

But with a $250,000 Caltrans grant, the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC) is hoping change that, and they don't need to reinvent the wheel to fix the roads.

"This corridor has not seen many improvements in many decades," said George Dondero, executive director of SCCRTC. "Each town, Felton, Ben Lomond, and Boulder Creek has done their individuals plans back in the 1980's and 90's.”

And Gallagher said the RTC should start with the simple things.

“We are throwing away money in doing these grandiose things. Why don't we tackle the little things like coordinating when they are going to do the work on the freeways and the roads, and just think outside of the box on how you can improve the flow of the traffic?," Gallagher said.   

Both Caltrans and the RTC said this study will put Highway 9 and its surrounding communities in a better position when it comes time to apply for grants for specific projects.

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