Traffic Moving on Highway 17 a Relief For Motorists, Businesses

Traffic on Highway 17 through the Santa Cruz Mountains was moving in both directions Sunday, albeit slowly.

For the past two weeks, mudslides on the main artery between Santa Clara Valley and the coast have wreaked havoc not only on commuters and weekend travelers, but also on businesses along the highway that rely on those throngs of motorists passing through.

While traffic still was reduced to one lane in each direction near Sugarloaf Road, adding at least 20 minutes to trips between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz, merhcants such as Rosanne Mayclin, who wons the Summit House Beer Garden and Grill, were just happy to see vehciles passing through.

"Yesterday was a little slower with the northbound lane closed," Mayclin said, "but today, since both lanes are running, we've seen a lot more traffic, more people traveling the road."

Mayclin said business is still only half of what it normally is on a Sunday.

The question now is how the lane closures will impact commute traffic Monday. Many people spent two hours or longer taking alternate routes to get over the hill last week, and they're likely wondering if it will take that long if they use Highway 17 Monday morning.

An electronic billboard on the highway says the maximum speed is 40 mph, but given the congestion in a normal commute, vehicles on Monday aren't likely to reach that speed.

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