The situation on Highway 1
Between Santa Cruz and Watsonville, Highway 1 is essentially a four-lane freeway, and is an object of controversy and concern. The most heavily traveled section of the road has been operating at capacity during peak hours since the late 1980s. Some feel that the resulting traffic congestion mandates widening the road to six or eight lanes. This is a strategy that is sure to fail, in that it will not relieve traffic congestion on the road. (For details see this page.)
Furthermore, a recent study by U.C. Davis and hosted on the Caltrans website concludes that “congestion relief is usually short-lived, due to ‘induced demand’ or ‘induced travel.’”
Adding lanes to Highway 1 will not only increase traffic congestion (particularly on other streets and roads), but will also exacerbate global warming.
In addition, such a strategy does little to enhance our mobility. It wastes precious resources that could otherwise be used to improve public transit and other transportation modes.
Will we continue to widen Highway 1?
Nevertheless, our Regional Transportation Commission is now considering whether to widen yet another segment of Highway 1—from the 41st Avenue interchange to the Soquel Drive interchange. After several years, Caltrans has finally just released Draft Environmental Documents for projects on Highway 1, documents that so far have cost our taxpayers over $12 million.
The draft documents are available electronically on the RTC website by clicking on the link in the preceding paragraph. An Open House Public Hearing is scheduled for December 3, 2015 from 6:00-8:30 pm at the multi-purpose room of the Live Oak Elementary School, 1916 Capitola Road. The RTC and Caltrans extended the comment period longer than the mandated amount to account for the holidays. All comments will be due by 5:00 pm on January 18, 2016.