Highway 1 Soquel/
Morrissey Auxiliary Lanes
The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) for Santa Cruz County is the construction manager for this project with the assistance of Parsons Brinckerhoff. The building contract was awarded to the lowest bidder RGW Construction on January 5, 2012. Construction on the project began on February 3, 2012, and will be complete in late 2013.
The project will add auxiliary lanes to Highway 1 between Soquel Avenue and Morrissey Boulevard, a distance of approximately one mile in each direction. An auxiliary lane connects an on-ramp with the next off-ramp but is not designed for use by through traffic. The lane extends the weaving and merging distance between the ramps and improves traffic flow by providing greater separation between vehicles entering and exiting the freeway from mainline traffic.
This segment of Highway 1 has historically been one of the busiest sections in Santa Cruz County carrying about 100,000 vehicles per day and routinely operates at the worst Level of Service (LOS) “F” for 8 hours each weekday.
The La Fonda Avenue overcrossing, which was replaced to accommodate the auxiliary lanes under the bridge, has bike lanes and a wider sidewalk for pedestrians. The project installed a raised crosswalk to provide safer pedestrian crossing and slow traffic between the entrance and exit to Harbor High School. The pedestrian path between Park Way and La Fonda was reconstructed as well as new sidewalks at the Morrissey Boulevard Interchange, along Rooney Street and Morrissey Boulevard between Elk Street and San Juan Avenue. The pathway and sidewalk features a new product that reduces green house gases through the use of a partial cement replacement. This innovative product is made from industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere, and instead is permanently stored in a solid form in the concrete.
La Fonda Bridge Demolition & Reconstruction
As part of the project, the La Fonda Bridge was reconstructed. The new bridge features improved bicycle lanes and sidewalks. The bridge was re-opened to traffic on August 24, 2013 following a community celebration event.
- The old La Fonda bridge that served the community well for 64 years was successfully demolished in August of 2012.
- For information on what the demolition process entailed, please see this display.
- The bridge re-opened to traffic on August 24, 2013
- For information about the steps included in the reconstruction process, please see this display.
- School Programs – A number of school transportation options were offered during construction of the new La Fonda Bridge. Many of them have been continued even though the bridge is now finished, visit these websites for information on current programs:
Project Schedule 2012-2013
(Estimated scheduled duration is shown, actual completion dates are dependent on weather/working days and other unforseen events.)
April 2012: Begin grading, dirt removal, and work begins on retaining walls, first, followed by sound walls and auxiliary lanes
June/July 2012: Sidewalks on Rooney Street and Morrissey Boulevard and multi-use path between Park Way and La Fonda Avenue near Harbor High School – COMPLETED
August 2012: La Fonda Avenue Bridge removed, continue to grade slopes, construct retaining walls and bridge abutments, preparing sub-base, and paving new auxiliary lanes (Scheduled completion in August 2013)
July 2013: Landscape work begins with grading and installation of irrigation lines
August 2013: La Fonda Avenue Bridge opened
Late 2013: Project Complete
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Frequently Asked Questions
The Highway 1 Auxiliary Lane FAQ includes information about the following topics: general, schedule, costs, construction, right of way, soundwalls and noise, detours and schools, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, environmental impacts, tree/vegetation removal and landscaping, relationship to the Highway 1/17 Interchange Merge Lanes project, relationship to the Highway 1 Corridor Plan and project information/communication.
Funding sources for the construction phase include the voter-approved Proposition 1B – State Transportation Bond and the region’s local share of the State Transportation Improvement Program. The state released construction funding in August 2011.
Right of Way
No additional right of way is required for the project however utility relocation and temporary construction easements were secured at select locations.
The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) will be the construction management entity for the project, with the assistance of experienced professionals and in partnership with Caltrans. The benefits of the RTC assuming construction management authority include:
- Direct involvement in critical decisions regarding the project
- Proactive construction management approach
- Local accountability and community relations
Beginning in 1986 the RTC, working with Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), conducted a series of studies to identify an affordable and appropriate response to the growing congestion problem on Highway 1. These studies culminated with beginning work on the Highway 1 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes Project in June 2003.
In January 2007, separate and apart from the HOV Lanes Project the RTC, Caltrans, and FHWA began work on the preliminary design and environmental analysis of the Soquel/Morrissey Auxiliary Lanes Project to improve traffic operations and safety. Final engineering plans were completed and accepted by the California Transportation Commission (CTC) in June 2011. The CTC released funds for project construction in August 2011.
The environmental document for this project was approved in September 2009.
Through the environmental analysis phase of the project, it was determined that approximately 1.5 acres of wetland and riparian habitat must be established in perpetuity to mitigate permanent and temporary impacts created by the project. In partnership with the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, City of Watsonville, Caltrans, and responsible resource agencies quickly agreed that the Phase 2, Manabe/Ow Watsonville Slough Restoration Project met the mitigation requirements. This project was completed in Fall 2012.
News Releases and Related Information
- 08/01/13 Street Smarts in the Santa Cruz Sentinel
- 08/07/12 Patch.com article, photos, video
- 07/28/12 Sentinel Article: La Fonda Bridge Demolition
- 07/17/2012 Street Smarts: Tips for Driving on Hwy 1
- News Release: Construction Contract Award recommended (December 2011)
- News Release: Construction Funding (August 2011)
- Caltrans website
Senior Transportation Planner