H-SANTA MARIA

Nov 22, 2013 6:52 PM by April Hansen, KSBY

Union Valley Parkway will soon be open to drivers

Drivers going through Santa Maria will have a new connection to Highway 101.

The $10.8 million Union Valley Parkway project is finished after more than 45 years of planning.

City, county and Caltrans officials celebrated with a ribbon cutting on Friday.

City officials say it has taken decades to finish because the funding wasn't there and some people living in the area didn't want it.

There was concern about the sound of traffic, and some neighbors say it's already a problem.

"As you can see, there is nothing up but a cyclone fence. There is nothing up to mitigate the sound," said Orcutt resident Jan Rush.

Rush has lived on Harmony Lane in Orcutt for more than 20 years. She says Highway 101's noise hasn't been an issue, until now.

"The engineering is so high up that they are actually looking into our park where we have children playing, looking into backyards and the back of houses, and that's without the noise element," said Rush.

Lori Cruddas is Rush's neighbor and shares the same frustration.

"I can hear the trucks and everything. It's just really loud," said Cruddas.

Transportation and city leaders say this new interchange will ease congestion.

"This will help with traffic and with traffic flow for people that want to access the communities in Santa Maria as well as Orcutt," said Caltran spokesman Tim Gubbins.

Caltrans says close to 40,000 drivers travel this area of the community every day, but neighbors worry it won't ease the noise.

"Unfortunately, the proximity some of the neighborhoods have with the 101, the noise that was already there will remain," said Gubbins.

Gubbins says the county is looking into possible solutions using some of the remaining project funds, but some people living nearby just want one thing.

"I would just like a wall. I would like a wall so we don't hear it, we aren't bothered by it, we don't keep seeing it," said Cruddas.

Gubbins says Caltrans did several studies during this project that looked at potential impacts on the area communities, including noise.

Caltrans expects to open the interchange to drivers early next week.

The funding for this project is from a voter-approved bond measure and Measure A sales tax dollars dedicated for transportation projects.

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