SOLEDAD — City leaders, along with the Transportation Agency of Monterey County (TAMC), school officials and Century Homes, unveiled the new Orchard Lane connection to Metz Road on Nov. 28.
According to Public Works Director Donald Wilcox, the connection has been a necessity for a long time and will serve as an additional route to get to San Vicente Elementary School as well as the future Hartnell College Satellite Campus.
The connection was part of a requirement for Century Homes’ Summerfield community housing project and was bonded for $1.2 million. Century Homes has already built about 300 homes in Soledad and is working on 200 more homes to complete the development.
The roadwork not only included the street, but also the sidewalk on Orchard Lane. The area where the road curves and is closer to San Vicente Elementary will be used for additional school parking.
In front of San Vicente Elementary, the City also worked on a traffic calming project to reduce speeds near the schools. The project was $850,000 with the additions, $516,000 was through a competitive grant from TAMC and $180,000 came from the Soledad gas tax.
“The City of Soledad has been working with the Soledad School District to do traffic calming for school pedestrians on Metz Road,” Wilcox said.
The traffic calming project included three areas of curbs for school children — one with a walkway that lights up to notify drivers that someone is crossing and to slow down and stop, and the second and third curbs have a direction change for the increased use of technology that makes pedestrians look where they are walking so they can follow the walkway.
“There’s lights on the signs to and from as well as the actual crossway,” Wilcox said.
The lighted crosswalk also includes an audible service that confirms the yellow lights are flashing for pedestrians to hear.
The traffic calming project runs from Third Street all the way to Andalucia.
“I want to help the city do more of this kind of safety around schools,” said Debbie Hale, executive director of TAMC. “This is exactly the kind of thing that we’re really trying to focus on with Measure X.”
Bulb-outs narrowed the Metz Road traffic as well as slowed down traffic coming from outside the city and inside the city near both San Vicente and Gabilan elementary schools.
The design came from Yamabe and Horn Engineering out of Fresno, and the contractor was Granite Construction.