Santa Clara

Structural Damage Shuts Down Highway 17 Bypass in Santa Cruz County

Soquel-San Jose Road is a main alternate route getting from the Santa Clara Valley to the coast

With Highway 17 still partially shut down because of mudslides, the nightmare did not get any better for those traveling between the coast and the Santa Clara Valley: A main alternate route is now sinking.

Soquel-San Jose Road on Monday was closed indefinitely near Amaya Ridge Road at post mile 5.9 due to structural damage to the road.

Santa Cruz County spokesman Jason Hoppin said there are no nearby detours available. Drivers were advised to use Highway 17, Highway 92 in San Mateo County or Highway 129 in Santa Cruz County.

Hoppin said engineers will soon devise a plan to fix Soquel-San Jose Road. He said the recent storms have damaged close to 100 roads through the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Neighbor Robert Brown spotted the sinking road on Friday, but it appeared to be only about 6 inches deep at the time.

"It's definitely going to get worse. Every day, it loses four to six inches," Brown said.

On Monday night, the damage stretched about 50 feet long and around 18 inches deep. Hoppin said the road is no longer an option for drivers trying to escape Highway 17 traffic.

"(Soquel-San Jose Road) is in no shape to take that much traffic," he said. "It's already down to one lane in several locations. It's very difficult, and this is kind of the last straw."

Hoppin and Brown said there was a mudslide in the exact same spot in 1982. Brown thinks old wounds may be reopening.

"It looks like it’s continuing. I'm guessing an underground spring," Brown said.

Even though the road is closed, some drivers continue to use it as a one lane road.

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