The Watsonville City Council has agreed to take a journey down a long road, as the city will study whether or not it should take over a state highway that runs through the city’s downtown. Known as Main Street, the four-lane Highway 152 has been an impediment to revitalizing the city’s core, and advocates of the takeover suggest it could lead to a revitalization of the business and residential district. However, since city offices are only open 4 days a week to save money, there are concerns that the local government cannot afford to take on the maintenance of a highway (though the state would surely be glad to drop the cost of handling it due to its own money woes). Control would also require money for changes to traffic flow and pedestrian access as well as beautification programs. There is also risk involved because if the city spends the money to control the road, it is not guaranteed that businesses will set up shop after changes are implemented. Patch reports:
“Less than a mile of Highway 152 is within the downtown corridor, but the city will ask the state for the entire stretch of highway that falls within Watsonville. That will mean the city is responsible for maintenance and liability but also gets the property rights. The city council needed to make a resolution and write a letter of intent, then introduce legislation to the California Transportation Commission. The commission takes up requests for relinquishing in September, so the issue won't actually be decided until next fall. Still, city leaders were excited about the possibilities.”
Mayor Daniel Dodge acknowledged there were concerns to be had but also pointed out that the idea is still in the initial stages; he commented that “We're only entering into the discussion stage. This is a vision entering Watsonville into 2012 and beyond." Grants could also help with the funding process. Time will tell if the takeover will be the road to ruin or the road to glory.