The interchange improvement project at Highways 101 and 25 is taking another step forward with the hiring of a design firm.
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority has chosen Kimley-Horn & Associates to perform the final design and engineering services at a cost of $5.1 million for the reconstruction of the interchange in Gilroy that is used heavily by local commuters. The project is separate but related to long-term plans to widen Highway 25 between Hollister and Gilroy.
“Getting the funding was terrific, and now getting the contract awarded is even better because they’ll get going on it,” said Mary Gilbert, executive director for the Council of San Benito County Governments.
The local COG isn’t overseeing the VTA project but is collaborating with the neighboring agency through the regional Mobility Partnership.
VTA provided background on the project in its report for a Thursday board meeting where agency directors approved the design contract.
According to the VTA summary:
In November 2016, the 2016 Measure B sales tax that was approved by the residents of Santa Clara County includes a Highway Interchanges Program with projected funding of $750 million over the life of the measure. The reconstruction of the US 101/SR 25 is one of the projects included in the program.
The California Transportation Commission also approved an allocation of $4.2 million from the Trade Corridor Enhancement Program of Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) at its Aug. 16 meeting for final design of the Phase 1 Project. Acceptance of these funds also included a requirement to award a contract within six months of CTC’s allocation of the funds. Six months would be Feb. 16.
On Oct. 18, VTA issued a request for proposals seeking qualified firms to provide final design and right-of-way engineering. Two proposals were received: Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. and Brian Kangas Foulk Engineers. The review panel consisted of representatives from VTA, the City of Gilroy, and Caltrans. The firms were interviewed on Dec. 11.
The scheduled completion date for the interchange project remains early 2024.
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 received a big funding boost with the approval of the 1 percent Measure G sales tax on the November ballot, but a time frame remains unclear on the widening.
“We’re putting together our strategic plan for the year,” Gilbert told San Benito Live. “So the tax won’t start being collected until April 1, so no money will be coming in until July.”
In the meantime, local planners are conducting background work to make sure state funding is secured as well, she said. Gilbert said there may be opportunities to do bonding as a way to advance projects, while COG is currently updating its cash-flow analysis.