Todd Guild/The Pajaronian Watsonville City Councilman Eduardo Montesino, second from left, talks about the ongoing construction of the pedestrian overcrossing in Mid_County with CalTrans engineers.

As he drove under the new pedestrian and bicycle bridge spanning Highway 1 Wednesday, CalTrans structural engineer Jorge Uberhuaga pointed to the wooden framework he described as a “bridge to build a bridge.”

After installing the rebar skeleton, workers will soon begin pouring cement that will form the bridge’s main portions. 

“It’s so much effort just to get it built,” he said.

Uberhuaga was one of several CalTrans employees giving a tour of the bridge—and the highway widening project in Mid-County—to county and city officials to construct north and southbound auxiliary lanes and bus-on-shoulder improvements on Highway 1 between the Bay Avenue/Porter Street and State Park Drive interchanges.

The Highway 1 project is expected to be completed by late 2025. Along with a retooled Santa Cruz Metro system that offers more frequent buses, it is intended to alleviate traffic along Highway 1 and on the county’s surface streets, easing commute times.

That will be a boon for South County residents, who bear the brunt of rush-hour traffic. It’s also why Watsonville City Councilman Eduardo Montesino says he welcomes the projects, and the improvement of Highway 1.

“I always say the highway is in my heart,” Montesino said.

Santa Cruz County Supervisor Felipe Hernandez said that spending up to three hours per day in Highway 1 traffic to and from South County is a quality-of-life issue.

“Everyone that lives in South County realizes, we need to find solutions to the gridlock on Highway 1 and the auxiliary land and trail project addresses that need a multimodal approach, that includes highway expansion, bike and pedestrian trails and bridges and dedicated bus lanes to expedite public transportation,” he stated in an email.

The project is funded through Measure D, the half-cent, 30-year sales tax measure passed by voters in 2016 that has funded numerous transportation infrastructure projects, including traffic, roadways and bicycle paths.

Because it funds multi-modal transportation systems, it therefore makes the county eligible for state grants to further fund the projects, said Supervisor Manu Koenig.

“Santa Cruz County has punched above its weight class because of Measure D,” he said.

Once complete, the pedestrian bridge will give residents of the Santa Cruz Gardens neighborhood and surrounding area a convenient way to the ocean side of the highway.

At the same time, Santa Cruz Metro is expanding bus service, offering more frequent buses on many routes, Koenig said. And with free rides for young people starting this month, the county has already seen a 400% increase in ridership, he said.

“We’re doing everything we can to boost ridership,” he said.

Also as part of this project, the Capitola Avenue overcrossing to Highway 1 is set to be demolished.

Todd Guild/The Pajaronian – The Capitola Avenue bridge crossing Highway 1 will be demolished in March. Construction on its replacement is estimated to finish in 2025.

On March 11, at 9am, crews will close the overcrossing at Highway 1 to all traffic to prepare for its demolition.

Its replacement—expected to open in the Summer or Fall of 2025—will include bike lanes and sidewalk improvements.

This long-term closure will be in effect for approximately 14 months. A detour will be in place via Bay Avenue/Porter Street and Park Avenue. Message and directional signs will be posted to assist travelers.  

Highway 1 will be completely closed between Bay Avenue/Porter Street and Park Avenue from Saturday, March 23 at 7pm. through March 24 at 7pm to allow crews to demolish the bridge.

During the closure, travelers on northbound Highway 1 will exit at Park Avenue and travel on Soquel Drive to rejoin the northbound Highway 1 onramp at Bay Avenue/Porter Street. Travelers on southbound Highway 1 will be directed off at Bay Avenue/Porter Street, travel on Soquel Drive and rejoin southbound Highway 1 at the Park Avenue onramp. 

Highway 1 will fully reopen to travel on March 24 at 7pm.
The date for the demolition is weather dependent.For information, visit

An earlier version of this story incorrectly named the bridge to be demolished and replaced.

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA.


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