Work to make Highway 1 safer in Half Moon Bay for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians is moving forward. Construction is planned to start as soon as this summer.
Since 2012, the city of Half Moon Bay has been working to make critical entryways onto Highway 1 more accessible for all users of the road. The project was divided into two parts, one for the northern section of the highway and one for the southern section.
On the south end, a new traffic signal is planned for the intersection of South Main Street, Higgins Canyon Road and Highway 1. Officials say it is intended to make it easier for drivers making left- hand turns and give bicyclists and pedestrians more visibility to safely cross and connect to the Naomi Patridge Trail on the west side of Highway 1. It would also eliminate the exit ramp that allows cars onto Main Street.
“The high speed exit ramp creates a problem for bicyclists coming from Higgins Canyon Road. There have also been a few car crashes into the fire station there because people were driving too fast,” said the city traffic engineer, Ray Razavi.
Razavi explained, as a result of cars colliding into the fire station, a concrete wall was built on the outside as part of their landscape to prevent further damage from crashes.
With the removal of the off-ramp exit, plans include building two signs on either side of the road welcoming drivers to Half Moon Bay.
“The two gateway signs will be 8 to 10 feet tall and look like a hillside of the sandstone bluffs,” said Public Works Director John Doughty. “So when you see it coming from the highway it might divert you to turn right and visit Half Moon Bay.”
Construction is expected to start on the new traffic light at South Main Street and Highway 1 this summer and will take about nine months to complete, according to Razavi.
“There should not be an impact to traffic during construction,” Razavi said. All the work will be done without closing lanes and during off-peak times.
For the north end, Half Moon Bay City Council approved $300,000 in Measure A funds last week to start the design phase of the project. The project is more intensive than the southern section, creating a long-discussed traffic signal at Terrace Avenue and Highway 1, extending a bike and pedestrian path on both sides of the road and making transit stops more accessible.
“There could be a lot of arguments that we are moving the choke point north, and we are,” Doughty said. “But in doing so we are helping improve traffic flow on Main Street and Highway 92.”
Once the southern section is complete, then construction would begin at the north end. Doughty said he expects the north project to take about a year and a half to complete with an expected finish sometime in 2021.
The cost of both projects is about $11 million, with grants from the San Mateo County Transportation Authority and the city also contributing to the costs. For the southern section, the city is responsible for about $600,000, and for the north, developer fees from Alianto Properties pay for $3.1 million with the city contributing $1.3 million.
Construction funds are estimated and will have actual amounts once bids are received from contractors. The property company entered into a deal with the city and the California Coastal Commission to pay in lieu of fees versus constructing its own traffic signal, which was needed in order for the Pacific Ridge development to be approved.
“This is sort of the state we are in. Caltrans is essentially looking for local folks to fund improvements to their highways,” Doughty said.
The focus for the projects is to improve safety on the main throughway for visitors and residents of Half Moon Bay. But it is also an effort to encourage other modes of transportation, by creating a useable bike path separated from the roadway.
After several input sessions in the past few years, Doughty said he is appreciative of the community for support of these projects.
He also noted there will be continued opportunities for people to submit feedback as the design process progresses.