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February 8, 2023

Federal appropriations bill earmarks $1M for highway project in Salinas Valley

Funds to improve traffic flow by creating auxiliary lane south of Salinas

SALINAS VALLEY — Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) announced that the Federal Highway Administration has earmarked $1 million for the “US 101 Auxiliary Lane – South of Salinas” project. 

The earmark, sponsored by Congressman Jimmy Panetta and Sen. Alex Padilla, is included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2023, which President Biden signed last week.

“We are grateful to Congressman Panetta and Sen. Padilla for their support to secure this funding to extend the US 101 northbound acceleration lane at Spence Road,” said Todd Muck, executive director of TAMC. “… We now have the full funding needed to start construction in 2023. The project is expected to be completed in 2024 and will improve safety along one of the primary routes that connects Northern and Southern California.”

The acceleration lane is an initial safety improvement in the overall “US 101 South of Salinas” project, which proposes to address safety concerns and improve traffic flow along 5.5 miles of Highway 101, from Airport Boulevard to the Main Street over-crossing in Chualar.

The auxiliary lane will provide space for trucks to safely accelerate from Spence Road onto Highway 101 and provide a deceleration lane for traffic exiting to Eckhardt Road.

This highway section is a vital connection in the national highway system that serves the needs of residents, businesses and the traveling public. Highway 101 is the primary artery along the Central Coast and is essential to statewide commerce.

“This busy corridor provides access from California’s Central Coast agricultural operations in the Salinas Valley to markets around the country,” according to TAMC in a news release. “It also provides the primary link from Southern California to the tourist destinations along the Monterey Peninsula.”

TAMC and Caltrans are working with the community to develop a set of long-term projects to address safety issues and reduce crashes along this critical agricultural route.

The proposed projects include the reconstruction of the existing interchange at Abbott Street, upgrades to the Chualar interchange, and a network of new frontage roads that will eliminate the need to make left turns across the highway at uncontrolled intersections and avoid vehicle crossings of the railroad tracks.

The extension of the 101 northbound acceleration lane at Spence Road is part of this plan.

“The project will improve traffic flow, which will also enhance existing transit service provided by Monterey-Salinas Transit to the southern Monterey communities,” TAMC said.

The “US 101 South of Salinas” project is a Measure X funded project with $30 million allocated to it, and is identified in the countywide “Transportation Safety and Investment Plan” approved by Monterey County voters in 2016.

Of a total construction cost of $3,247,000 for the auxiliary lane, $317,000 of Measure X is leveraging $1.93 million of state funding in addition to the $1 million federal earmark.

“The $1 million earmark is another example of TAMC’s ability to leverage Measure X funds using state and federal funds to deliver important transportation projects in Monterey County,” Muck said.

Ryan Cronk
Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.

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