In an (almost) unprecedented fashion, Caltrans and Teichert Construction are building 5.2 new miles of four-lane San Benito Route 156 adjacent to the existing highway. This route is a key east-west link between the cities of Hollister and San Juan Bautista, as well as the Central Coast and the Central Valley. Work commenced in August of 2022 and is targeted to complete in the autumn of 2025.
Sited immediately south of the existing Highway 156 alignment, the project begins in San Juan Bautista at The Alameda and continues to just east of the Highway 156 Business Route, Fourth Street, in Hollister. Total project cost is $130.7 million, which is funded by Traffic Impact Fees, State Interregional Improvement Program funds, and additional federal revenue. Construction accounts for $89.7 million of the budget, Right-of-Way work $26.6 million, Design $9.7 million, and Environmental $4.7 million.
The new expressway is projected to save accident and vehicle operating costs in the amount of $34.6 million over the first 20 years of its use. It will also reduce congestion delay by 1,902 hours daily, amassing to a yearly total of 694,257 hours. This all translates to a return-on-investment of $102.8 million over the next two decades.
In the environmental review for the project, Caltrans created a remediation plan to replace the trees and vegetation that needed to be removed in the project area. A combination of 170 Live Oaks and Valley Oaks, along with Sycamore, Cottonwood, and Willow trees will be planted, plus a number of Ceanothus and Elderberry shrubs.
Initial work on the project included earthwork involving roadway excavation and lime treatment of the original ground to help stabilize and harden the previously irrigated soil in this heavily agricultural region. Currently, CRCP mainline paving is underway in the new alignment.
A 30-foot median will divide and separate the four new highway lanes, creating a much safer traffic environment in this corridor. To provide safe ingress to and crossing of SR 156 at Bixby Road, along with egress from the highway, construction of a new roundabout at the Bixby Road intersection is underway.
Teichert estimates that it will require approximately 60 paving shifts, with roughly 40 mainline shifts and 20 hand-pour shifts, with close to 63,000 cubic yards of continuously reinforced concrete pavement (CRCP) being placed to create the new expressway.
The project EA number is 05-344904, and the pavement structural section has 1.35 feet of Aggregate Subbase (Class 1) with a geotextile enhancement (Class B2), followed by 0.25 feet of Hot Mixed Asphalt (HMA), and topped with 0.90 feet of CRCP.
A tip of the hard hat to the Teichert crew on the project who helped with this story, including Project Manager Nate Gonzalez, Chris Barkley, Nestor Palomera, Brent Edelman, and Greg Bartholomew.