Find another route to the beach, Los Gatos leaders say.
The city is blocking off the Santa Cruz Avenue on-ramp to Highway 17, a popular shortcut used by thousands of drivers. The road, lined with trendy shops and restaurants, will be closed during the July 4 holiday as well as the next weekend, forcing drivers to make a U-turn and back track.
Lisa Lischka runs the Pure Path salon on Santa Cruz Avenue is in favor of cutting off access to the on-ramp.
“I'm hoping that the people that are going to Santa Cruz will get in line like everybody else, and not cut through town and block our businesses,” she said.
Tim Nelson, of the neighboring Rural Supply Hardware, agrees.
“There were a couple of previous weekends this summer that were absolutely gridlocked in town,” he recalled. “Nothing moved. So if that's the downside, then how much worse can this possibly be?"
Town leaders say their studies show about 2,000 extra vehicles use this shortcut on a normal Saturday and as many as 7,000 on a holiday. They say the closure will help provide data for future changes.
They will be “collecting traffic counts – movements at intersections – to see where traffic is coming from, and where they're headed to,” according to Public Works Director Matt Morley.
Morley emphasized, however, that the closure is not eliminating a real shortcut.
“The data is showing that if your destination is the beach, the fastest way to get there is on Highway 17,” Town Manager Laurel Prevetti said. “That's what the freeway was built to accommodate."
One homeowner on Santa Cruz Avenue says he hopes the upcoming holiday closure leads to permanent changes.
“Right now, I’m a captive in my house on Saturdays because if I leave any time after 10 o'clock in the morning, it could take me an hour to get back here,” Jim Hogan said.