Traffic in Los Gatos has increased over the years due to the added annexation of land and the increase of the towns population. SR-17 also know as State Route 17 or CA 17. Some will refer to it as Scenic Route 17. SR 17 is eligible to be included in the State Scenic Highway System, but it is not officially designated as a scenic highway by the California Department of Transportation, also known as (Cal-Trans). Today it is the main thoroughfare between San Jose and Santa Cruz. In 2016, SR-17 averaged 60,000 cars traveled per day with an average of 1720 trucks traveling per day. By 2026 the amount of cars traveling is predicted to rise to 84,000 and 2000 trucks.
What causes the back ups?
Heading southbound SR-17 from Campbell motorist will go from an 4 lanes to 3 lanes and then to 2 lanes just past Lark Ave. Add more vehicles that are exiting from HWY 85 to merge with the commuter traffic. This causes a chain reaction for slower vehicle speed and is reduced considerably that contributes to the ongoing traffic issues.
Unplanned events such as; vehicle accidents, brush fires, disabled vehicles and wondering animals. This creates many of the traffic issues. SR-17 is listed as the deadliest roadway in California with its many blind curves, varying speed limits, and road conditions that change in inclement weather. Ice, rain water, mudslides, fallen rocks and trees will many times halt traffic.
Speed Limits for Automobiles and Trucks. The average Speed for automobiles is 55 MPH, and the average for trucks is 35 MPH. This causes autos to hit their brakes once they come up on a truck or they try to change lanes to avoid a collision causing others to brake suddenly causing a rippling effect and traffic starts to back up.
Beach Traffic has this issue as well but with more motorist trying to drive over SR-17 during the weekend and usually around the same time. SR-17 then becomes gridlocked, usually early in the day and will take several hours for the traffic to subside. When this occurs, motorist will try to find alternative routes and then our local roads in Los Gatos will usually back up. When this happens, many residence can not get out of their driveways or even get back to their homes. Many have complained that they will have to park their car blocks away and then have to walk the rest of the way home.
What are the some realistic solutions:
Widen SR-17 from Hwy 85 to the Lexington Reservoir area.
Have restrictive time limits for trucks to travel over SR-17. Especially during peak travel times.
Create innovative ways to divert beach traffic back onto SR-17 and away from the residential streets.