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California State Route 152 Improvements

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I haven't found a thread on SR 152 in California, so I thought I'd start one.

Some articles were released in 2012 regarding the feasibility of upgrading SR 152 across the Central Valley into an expressway/freeway via a toll road, including the Los Banos Bypass. However, by 2013, it appears as if the toll option is off the table and that the Los Banos Bypass, specifically, won't be built until 2027. Here is what I found:

--- Quote ---The state is considering a plan for improving Highway 152 that may require drivers to pay tolls. The toll booths would be added to 152 between Interstate 101 and Highway 99.

Driving on Highway 152 could one day cost you. The California Transportation Commission is considering a plan to add toll booths to the highway in order to pay for a new four lane road between Casa De Fruta and Gilroy, and also a long-awaited bypass around Los Banos.
--- End quote ---

--- Quote ---The Merced County Association of Governments says toll booths may be the only way to pay for the $420 million bypass. But first, it's being asked to contribute $7 million toward the overall environmental review process, money that was set aside specifically for the bypass.
--- End quote ---

--- Quote ---Los Banos Mayor Mike Villalta says he's seen millions of dollars taken from the bypass project before, and he's not convinced the toll money would ever benefit his city. ...

The idea is also drawing criticism from the Merced County Farm Bureau. Amanda Carvajal says one option calls for four to five toll booths in Merced County alone, with prices as high as seven dollars per tolling site. Large trucks would likely pay much more.
--- End quote --- (April 2012)

--- Quote ---The State Route 152 Mobility Partnership ... members include the Merced County Association of Governments, Madera County Transportation Authority, Council of San Benito County Governments and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. The groups have come together to work on a project to expand Highway 152 from two to four lanes from Highway 156 near Casa de Fruta to Highway 101 in Gilroy. An eastbound climbing lane is part of the proposal.

Several toll booth locations are being considered. Sites being studied for Merced County include Highway 152 near Highway 59, Interstate 5 and Highway 33 toward Dos Palos. A 2010 revenue report estimates toll cost at $2.50 to $4 for one-axle vehicles. No other type of vehicles are mentioned in the study. MCAG Executive Director Jesse Brown said there likely will be only one location for a toll. It will be near Casa de Fruta and drivers will have a choice. "You could either pay and go on the new section or you could continue on the old section (for free)," he said.
--- End quote --- (from 2010)

--- Quote ---The Route 152 Trade Corridor Project will focus on a key unimproved segment of the highway in southern Santa Clara County. Itís a 12-mile stretch between Highway 101 in Gilroy and State Highway 156, near the Casa de Fruta roadside restaurant/produce market complex in the Pacheco Pass area. The two-lane road carries up to 25,000 cars on an average weekday, but suffers near-gridlock conditions on Friday nights and during holiday weekends.

Don Dey, transportation planner for the city of Gilroy, said the traffic counts are taken just east of the Gilroy Foods manufacturing plant about a mile east of Highway 101. Dey said officials are reviewing the construction of an alternate route between busy Highway 101 and State Highway 156, which connects Hollister with Highway 152. He said it would originate on the southern end of Gilroy at the 101 interchange with Highway 25 and could consist of stretches of both improved existing road and new construction.
--- End quote --- (July 2013)

--- Quote ---Land for the Los Banos bypass is closer to being acquired, but it will be nearly 15 years before construction is likely to start.

The Merced County Association of Governments on July 18 voted to apply an additional $300,000 toward purchasing land for the Highway 152 bypass, bringing the total to $2.8 million.

The money will pay for three parcels on the eastern end of the proposed project near the San Luis Canal and Santa Fe Grade. The need for the additional money is because of a July 5 appraisal that priced one property above the amount previously allocated. ...

After the land is purchased, she said, the project will likely be dormant because there is no money for construction. She said it would take 10 years for the Regional Improvement Program, which holds money MCAG collects through a gas tax, to build up enough funds for construction. She said it would be four years more before construction plans could get approval, meaning the earliest that work could begin on the bypass would be 2027.

--- End quote --- (Fact Sheet on Los Banos Bypass) (Draft Environmental Document from 2005)


Update from May on the Los Banos bypass for Route 152 (and 33)

Most interesting is this detail:

"The Merced County Association of Governments Measure V Westside Projects Committee on Tuesday voted to recommend prioritizing funding for a Los Banos project that would widen and extend Pioneer Road, from Ward Road to the Merced College Los Banos campus."

IIRC, wasn't the southern bypass proposals of the 80s/90s dormant for a long time?  (Pioneer is parallel to the current 152 but south of there)  I know the recent bypass corridor involved going north of town.

From what I can remember (sorry that I don't have any sources for this), VTA (the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority) was the one pursuing the toll road over Pacheco Pass.  They wanted a safer corridor for commuters and truck traffic, plus an improved shipping corridor to the Central Valley.  The tolling of the roadway was the means to finance the construction, similar to the CA 125 freeway in San Diego County and the planned CA 156 freeway upgrade in northern Monterey County.

The realigned CA 152 between US 101 and CA 156 was planned to be a new four-lane freeway through northern San Benito County on a new alignment.  A new freeway-to-freeway interchange would be constructed at the current US 101/CA 25 interchange south of Gilroy.  A six-lane freeway - cosigned as CA 25 and CA 152 - would travel for about two miles eastward from US 101.  A new freeway-to-freeway interchange would then be built northeast of the current CA 25/Bolsa Road interchange - CA 25 would continue southeast as a four-lane expressway to Hollister on a new alignment parallel to and just north of the current CA 25, and CA 152 would continue eastward as a four-lane freeway to the current CA 152/CA 156 interchange.  A former boss of mine still has the conceptual layout of the two interchanges that were prepared for VTA and the proposed realignments of both CA 152 and CA 25 from US 101 to about Shore Road in San Benito County.

I do not know if VTA/Caltrans are still pursuing this exact realignment of CA 152, but the interchange as US 101/CA 25 is funded by the current Santa Clara County sales tax and Caltrans still has the long-term goal of the CA 25 expressway on the new alignment.

Anything to get around that twisty mess between Gilroy and CA 156.



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