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Upper 41st Avenue Improvement Project

Location: 41st Avenue between the Highway 1 interchange and Soquel Drive


Program Manager: Sheryl Bailey


Background and History: The proposed remodel and expansion of the Safeway and Kmart properties along the east side of 41st Avenue served as a catalyst for the development of the plan line for this segment of the roadway. From the start, addressing the fundamental differences between the traffic circulation needs of the businesses along the east and west side of the roadway has been a central challenge in generating a workable design. While the development adjoining the east side of the roadway is mall-like with large parking areas enjoying shared circulation and easy unified access to 41st Avenue, the west side of the street is populated, for the most part, by a number of smaller businesses set closer to the roadway, each having an individual driveway, limited parking, and little shared circulation.


The Agency hosted a community meeting in December 2001 where a conceptual plan line was presented and input from owners of businesses along 41st Avenue was received. Concerns raised at this meeting included the importance of access to the west side businesses, the location of a possible future mid-block traffic signal, the location of the proposed medians, and the need for coordinated signals and regional traffic planning to ease traffic congestion. These concerns were addressed in the second version of the plan, presented at a meeting in April of 2002, which met with the general approval of those in attendance.


The final plan, further refined to address and resolve additional concerns from the April meeting, was approved by the Board of Supervisors in June of 2002. It includes a typical cross-section of two travel lanes and a bicycle lane in each direction with a center turn lane and two median islands. A combination of separated and contiguous sidewalk is planned for the west side of the street; the east side will have separated sidewalks. The sections of separated sidewalk will be planted with street trees and other landscaping. The medians at the north and south entrances to the roadway segment will contain signature trees. The intent of the plan line is to provide safe pedestrian access and to maximize the preservation of existing trees.


Construction of road improvements on the east side of Upper 41st Avenue was required as a part of the development permit for expanded retail uses in the shopping center that includes Safeway which was approved by the Planning Commission on January 19, 2002. In addition, Home Depot has been required to install a traffic signal at the main entrance to the shopping center. Frontage improvements have been completed. The Capitola and Soquel Chamber of Commerce hosted a meeting with local businesses, the County, the City of Capitola, and CalTrans to discuss the need for traffic improvements on 41st Avenue and the need for coordinated interior parking and circulation on the west side of 41st Avenue. The Agency and the Capitola/Soquel Chamber of Commerce followed up with additional meetings with the property and business owners to review options for additional traffic improvements on 41st Avenue.


The County of Santa Cruz, Home Depot, and the City of Capitola entered into an agreement to implement improvements to the Highway 1 overpass, including removing the median and re-striping the overpass to add a right-turn lane for the north and south bound Highway 1 exit ramps to relieve the south-bound traffic congestion on 41st Avenue. The City of Capitola oversaw the CalTrans permit and construction process and CalTrans completed the improvements in the summer of 2009.


Project Status: The Agency, in conjunction with the Department of Public Works plans to study other potential traffic improvements for 41st Avenue. The implementation of the plan line is pending the outcome of this work.