Local commuters can tentatively rejoice: There is now a schedule and planned completion date for the interchange project at Highways 101 and 25.
With a boost from a neighboring county’s sales tax along with state gas tax funds, transportation planners now have a scheduled completion date of early 2024 for the interchange to ease congestion at the often-clogged area where the two highways intersect.
It’s a big deal for the thousands of San Benito County commuters who use Highways 25 and 101 for their morning and evening commutes.
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez made the announcement this week following a meeting of the Mobility Partnership comprised of elected officials from San Benito and Santa Clara counties who coordinate on transportation projects. He posted a photo on social media after the Tuesday meeting showing the newly minted schedule.
“The picture kind of shows the timeline for the new interchange or overpass for 101/25,” he said. “This is something we’ve been working with them on for the past two to three years. They want to be completed with it in 2024 so it’s going along pretty good.”
Funding from the project will come from the Valley Transportation Authority of Santa Clara County.
“That happened when they passed their sales tax over there,” Velazquez said. “They allocated $70-plus million for the interchange, for the first phase of it. The overall improvement of that corridor is about $200 million. That’s the widening and all that. That’s down the road.”
The first portion of that broader vision is to build ramps for an interchange, with that completion now scheduled for 2024 and work now started on initial phases such as environmental work.
Council of San Benito County Governments Executive Director Mary Gilbert also noted that Santa Clara County received a $4 million boost from a program using funds from Senate Bill 1, also known as the gas tax — which is facing a prospective repeal on the November ballot through the Prop. 6 initiative.
Gilbert said the $4 million boost from SB-1 funds helped to move the project scheduling along.
“It’s a strong milestone schedule that does show, if all construction-related dollars are obtained, then yeah, it would be open by 2024,” Gilbert said.
She noted that additional environmental work must be done along with a final design and acquiring of right-of-way properties. The project is fully funded through the environmental and design phases, she said.
As for other local highway projects intended to east congestion for San Benito County drivers, the Highway 156 widening project is expected to start in 2020 and last for two years. The widening to Highway 25 is largely contingent on local funding and whether voters approve a 30-year, 1 percent countywide sales tax on the November ballot.