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Scotts Valley
April 20, 2024
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Federal Money Flowing to Popular Santa Cruz County Backroad

Santa Cruz County will receive $2 million to repair some damaged Santa Cruz Mountain road segments along the Old Santa Cruz Highway, House lawmaker Anna G. Eshoo announced Aug. 20.

“The storms in 2017 overwhelmed county public works and as a result, far too many roads have remained unusable four years later,” Eshoo said in a release. “I’m proud to announce that with these funds, significant and long-overdue repairs will be made possible, easing travel through the beautiful Santa Cruz mountains.”

This money comes as a grant providing $1,987,067.16 in federal funding to Santa Cruz County’s Department of Public Works, under a program meant to address winter storms, flooding or mudslides.

It’s up to Sacramento to make sure the money gets handed out properly, Eshoo said.

“Following the state’s review process and upon receipt of appropriate documentation, they will provide funds to the sub-recipients on a reimbursable basis,” the release states.

Jeremiah Ellison, 44, a Santa Cruz resident, uses the route to dip around backed-up traffic on Highway 17, sometimes. After all, he’s an educator in Silicon Valley, and he has kids to teach.

“Well, it’s not going to go very far,” he said, calling $2 million a drop in the bucket. “There’s a retaining wall that needs to be fixed, and that alone would probably cost $5 million.”

But he says, some improvement is better than nothing.

“Some of those areas around the corners are very tight,” he said.

His friend, Ryan Pryor, 48, is a Scotts Valley resident who also commutes to Silicon Valley daily. He says it’s nice to have Old Santa Cruz as a back-up option.

“If things are crazy we’ll slip over to some other road,” he said, but adds, “I don’t think I care if the road looks better, or is better.”

But he says, it will probably make a big difference to locals who use it more frequently.

About to get in his truck at a property along the route in question, Miguel Serna, 37, said he travels on Old Santa Cruz every week. The Santa Cruz County resident is glad to hear about the upgrade plan.

“I think it’s nice they’re fixing it,” he said, but notes, “If I have those $2 million, I’d spend it more on Old San Jose Road.”

That backroad is even worse, he explained, as he wondered aloud if the FEMA money would trickle down that direction.

“It’s more hillsides,” he said. “There’s been a lot of mudslides.”

Either way, he’s glad to learn about the improvements.

“I think it’s a little bit safer with less holes in the road,” he said.

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