The improvements are planned in three phases:
- The first phase is from Soquel Drive to 41st Avenue. It is expected to finish in 2025, according to the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission.
- The second phase is from Bay Avenue to State Park Drive. It is expected to break ground in fall 2023 and be completed in 2026.
- The third phase is from State Park Drive to Freedom Boulevard. It could begin as early as 2025.
This project calls for new auxiliary lanes, bus-on-shoulder improvements between auxiliary lanes, new bridges for cyclists and walkers and construction on Segment 12 of the Coastal Rail Trail. The project is planned in three phases.
Auxiliary lanes “connect the on-ramps with the next off-ramp, thereby extending the weaving and merging distance between the ramps, improving traffic operations and reducing cut-through traffic diverting to local streets and neighborhoods,” according to the regional transportation commission.
A map shows the first phase of Highway 1 construction near Soquel Drive that started in 2023. The bus-on-shoulder design will allow only buses to continue on the shoulder between off-ramps and on-ramps. (Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission)
First phase of Highway 1 improvements
The first phase is under construction on Highway 1 from Soquel Drive to 41st Avenue. It is expected to finish in 2025. The first phase includes:
- Auxiliary lanes on north and south Highway 1 from Soquel Drive to 41st Avenue will connect on-ramps and off-ramps to try to improve traffic flow.
- The highway’s shoulder from the end of one auxiliary lane to the start of the next one will be for buses.
- A bridge over Highway 1 for cyclists and walkers will be constructed at Chanticleer Avenue.
Measure D, which Santa Cruz County voters approved in 2016, helped fund the project. Watsonville-based Granite Construction is the contractor for the $29 million project.
The first phase of the project includes a new footbridge over Highway 1 at Chanticleer Avenue. (Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission)
Second phase of Highway 1 improvements
The second phase is expected to break ground in fall 2023 to improve Highway 1 from Bay Avenue to State Park Drive. Construction is expected to finish in 2026.
Plans for this phase include:
- Auxiliary lanes and bus-on-shoulder lanes are planned on Highway 1 between Bay Avenue and State Park Drive.
- Reconstruction of the Highway 1 bridge at Capitola Avenue is expected with bike lanes and improvements for walkers.
- A new bridge for cyclists and walkers is planned at Mar Vista Drive in Aptos.
Estimated total cost of the project is $94.2 million from Measure D in 2016 and other sources.
Phase two of the project includes a rebuilt Highway 1 bridge at Capitola Avenue and a new Highway 1 bridge at Mar Vista Drive. (Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission)
Third phase of Highway 1 improvements
The third phase of upgrades are planned on Highway 1 between State Park Drive and Freedom Boulevard. Construction could begin as early as 2025.
Plans for this phase include:
- Auxiliary lanes and bus-on-shoulder lanes to Highway 1 are planned between State Park Drive and Freedom Boulevard.
- Two railroad bridges are set to be replaced and the Aptos Creek bridge is expected to be widened.
- Segment 12 of the Coastal Rail Trail will be constructed from State Park Drive to Rio Del Mar Boulevard.
Estimated cost of the project is $180 million. About $83 million still needs to be secured to cover the project cost, transportation commission leaders said.
The third phase includes replacement of two railroad bridges over Highway 1 and a widened bridge at Aptos Creek. (Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission)