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Posted on: June 13, 2019

Beach Traffic Is Back - Here Is What the Town Is Doing

Los Gatos continues to experience high levels of traffic congestion as do all cities in the Bay Area. The Town has experimented with short term adjustments over several years and learned a lot from those efforts.

The most impactful of those lessons is that putting controls in one location always shifts the traffic to another location.  Often this can create other negative impacts, such as for businesses or previously unaffected residential streets.

Acknowledging this, the Town has refocused on bigger, long term goals. This includes ensuring our local streets, including arterial streets, focus on local traffic needs, including bicycles and pedestrians. This will improve these streets for locals and make them less attractive for cut through traffic. In addition, the Town has taken on a regional effort to keep traffic on the freeways. Most pronounced in this work is an upgrade to the Highway 9 at Highway 17 interchange and the review of increased efficiencies and potentially increased capacity within the existing right-of-way on Highway 17. The Town has garnered support from this regionally and at the State level. Improvements are a few years off, and the preliminary work gets the ball rolling.

The Town is receiving several commonly asked questions. The following information is in a Q&A format:

How will the one-way street pilot on Santa Cruz Avenue address cut through traffic?

The one-way pilot is not intended to address cut through traffic. In parallel to the traffic efforts, the Town is continuing to enhance efforts to make sure Los Gatos is a destination for shopping, dining, and other activities. The downtown Santa Cruz Avenue One-Way Pilot Project between Elm and Bachman includes temporary parklets and a bike lane from July through October. Learn more by clicking the ExperienceLG logo on the Town’s website – www.losgatosca.gov.

Why don’t we build a train or other transit option to the beach?

Several reasons. The most obvious is cost. There is little left of the old train route and obtaining right-of-way and constructing a rail line just isn’t realistic. Additionally, there are challenges with ridership. There just isn’t a culture where people will pack their coolers, umbrellas, and towels onto a train.

Why did the Town stop closing the South Santa Cruz Avenue on-ramp and why doesn’t the Town close the Highway 9 on-ramp?

Closing the south on-ramp simply moved traffic to other locations in the community and created other impacts to local business. The intent of that effort was to try the temporary closure and the evaluation showed it didn’t work. The Highway 9 on-ramp is a Caltrans facility and Caltrans has been clear that closing a State highway interchange will not happen.

In the face of beach traffic, why is local development continuing?

The beach traffic phenomenon occurs on the weekends during the summer and is not traffic generated in Los Gatos, but rather regionally. Even with no new construction, Los Gatos would still unfortunately experience the effects of beach traffic.

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