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September 22, 2023

Freedom Boulevard facelift scheduled for next fiscal year

WATSONVILLE—The city of Watsonville this coming fiscal year will use nearly $5 million in Measure D and Senate Bill 1 funds to move forward on several road improvement projects within city limits.

The list of projects, approved 6-0 by the City Council Tuesday, includes a long awaited facelift of Freedom Boulevard from Alta Vista Avenue to Green Valley Road, and a revamp of Green Valley Road from Freedom Boulevard to the city limits near The Towers—Pajaro Valley Unified School District headquarters.

In all, the city will use $2.3 million in Measure D funds, and $2.1 million in SB1 funds during the 2021-22 fiscal year to construct and design several projects. It will also use some of those funds to conduct traffic safety programs, most of which are targeted at keeping young people safe.

The city this year is completing design and environmental impact reports for the Freedom Boulevard project, and has been improving utilities along that stretch of the road to prepare for the impending improvements, which include replacing non-ADA compliant driveways and curb ramps, the installation of high-visibility crosswalks, upgrades to existing bus stops and the addition of a new traffic signal at Sydney Avenue.

The project, overall, will cost roughly $3 million. Funds from Measure D and SB1 will cover about $1 million of the cost, and the city will also use a $1.5 million grant from the State Transportation Improvement Program. The city will need another $480,000 to complete the project.

The Green Valley Road project, meanwhile, is also in the design and environmental review phase, and the city will undergo utilities improvements on the roughly quarter-mile stretch of road this summer and fall before construction begins. Along with repaving the road, plans also call for the installation of a median island, replacement of non-ADA compliant driveways and curb ramps and the addition of bike lanes.

That project is expected to cost about $2.5 million. About $1 million will come from Measure D, and the rest will come from SB1.

Measure D is a half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2016 that provides local jurisdictions with funds to complete mounting road repairs and improve pedestrian and cyclist conditions. And SB1 is a $54 billion road improvement bill signed into law by then-California Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017.

Along with those two large projects, the city also earmarked $94,465 to design improvements to Pennsylvania Drive between Clifford Avenue and Winding Way, and Bridge Street between Blackburn and Beck streets.

The city also set aside $100,000 to design and seek grants for pedestrian improvements for downtown.

In addition, the city will invest $290,000 to upgrade and maintain various bicycle infrastructure, trails and upgrade or install safety and traffic calming measures such as striping, markers, signage, signals, lighting, flashing beacons, curb extensions and speed humps on several roads.

Similar small projects funded by Measure D include the speed humps from Bridge Street from Hushbeck Avenue to Joyce Drive, and the installation of a flashing beacon at the Freedom Boulevard-Marin Street intersection.

Tony Nuñez
Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.


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