“The contractor is scraping down the edge of the hillside,” said Russ Albrecht, an engineer with Santa Cruz County Public Works. “They’re taking the slope back to prevent sliding in the future.”
Work is in full swing on the $2.7 million improvements, intended to allow drivers a greater margin for error on the treacherous roadway. The project, to be carried out by contractor Monterey Peninsula Engineering Inc., includes 3-foot expansions of pavement to the shoulder on both sides, modernization of the oft-problematic drainage system and addition of a 200-foot left-turn pocket outside the main entrance to Roaring Camp Railroads.
When the plan was first announced, the Santa Cruz County Department of Public Works acknowledged that drivers likely would experience delays due to lane closures during construction, excavation and paving.
Beginning June 29, construction crews erected a temporary signal to control traffic while excavation work takes place on the Mount Hermon side of the roadway, closing that lane. The lane will be closed and the traffic signal will operate round the clock for a month, until July 28, Albrecht said.
Albrecht said the temporary traffic light makes work more efficient, as the contractor does not have to flag traffic, and it’s safer for workers along the rural roadway.
“It gets a little nerve-wracking (working right next to the road),” Albrecht said. “It’s tight, parking’s tight. There are a lot of crazy things that happen.”
Albrecht said that the traffic light may be moved down the road toward Felton for another stage in the project. Paving will likely take place at the end of 2011 and into early 2012, including the addition of the turn lane into Roaring Camp, he noted.
The department suggests that motorists avoid using Graham Hill Road and take alternate routes if possible.