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Soquel Morrissey Aux Lanes


The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) for Santa Cruz County was the construction manager for this project with the assistance of Parsons Brinckerhoff.  The building contract was awarded to RGW Construction on January 5, 2012. Construction on the project began on February 3, 2012, and was finished in December 2013.


  • Environmental mitigation funds required from this project were used to implement a high priority habitat restoration project, the Manabe Wetland Restoration Project in Watsonville. See page 8-9 of this report for details
  • Project completion commemorated with Ribbon Cutting Event held on 1/22/14. See video of event produced by Community Television. – Ribbon Cutting
  • La Fonda Bridge Demolition – Project Photos

Project Description

The project added auxiliary lanes to Highway 1 between Soquel Avenue and Morrissey Boulevard, a distance of approximately one mile in each direction. An auxiliary lane connects an on-ramp with the next off-ramp but is not designed for use by through traffic. The lane extends the weaving and merging distance between the ramps and improves traffic flow by providing greater separation between vehicles entering and exiting the freeway from mainline traffic.

This segment of Highway 1 has historically been one of the busiest sections in Santa Cruz County carrying over 100,000 vehicles per day.

The La Fonda Avenue overcrossing was replaced to accommodate the auxiliary lanes under the bridge, has bike lanes and a wider sidewalk for pedestrians. The project reconfigured access into and out of Harbor High School and installed a raised crosswalk to provide safer pedestrian crossing and slow traffic between the entrance and exit to Harbor High School. The pedestrian path between Park Way and La Fonda was reconstructed as well as new sidewalks at the Morrissey Boulevard Interchange, along Rooney Street and Morrissey Boulevard between Elk Street and San Juan Avenue.

La Fonda Bridge Demolition & Reconstruction

The old La Fonda bridge that served the community well for 64 years was successfully demolished in August of 2012. The new bridge features bicycle lanes, improved sidewalks, and LED lighting. The bridge was re-opened to traffic on August 24, 2013 following a community celebration event. A number of alternative school transportation options were offered during construction of the new La Fonda Bridge at DeLaveaga Elementary and Harbor High Schools to mitigate traffic congestion. Many of these have continued even though the bridge is now finished.

Project Funding

Funding sources for the construction phase included $13.8 million in voter-approved Proposition 1B – State Transportation Bond funds (Corridor Mobility Improvement Account or CMIA) secured by the Regional Transportation Commission via a competitive process and $2.5 million in State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) funds.

Construction Management

The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) was the construction manager for the project, with the assistance of experienced professionals and in partnership with Caltrans.  The benefits of the RTC assuming construction management authority included:

  • Direct involvement in critical decisions regarding the project
  • Proactive construction management approach
  • Development of locally beneficial, and lasting ancillary transportation components
  • Local accountability and community relations


In January 2007, the RTC, Caltrans, and FHWA began work on the preliminary design and environmental analysis of the Soquel/Morrissey Auxiliary Lanes Project to improve traffic operations and safety. The environmental document for this project was approved in September 2009. Final engineering plans were completed and accepted by the California Transportation Commission (CTC) in June 2011.

Through the environmental analysis phase of the project, it was determined that approximately 1.5 acres of wetland and riparian habitat must be established in perpetuity to mitigate permanent and temporary impacts created by the project. In partnership with the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, City of Watsonville, Caltrans, and responsible resource agencies quickly agreed that the Phase 2, Manabe/Ow Watsonville Slough Restoration Project met the mitigation requirements.  This project was completed in Fall 2012.

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