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A Roundabout Way to Solve a Monterey Traffic Snarl: Holman Highway 68/State Route 1 Project

Anyone who travels near the Holman Highway/Highway 1 interchange will tell you that severe backups occur like clockwork every rush hour. Drivers tear their hair out as they deal with extensive delays, increased air pollution and restricted access to the local hospital. Some traffic bypasses the bottleneck by dangerously speeding through adjacent residential neighborhoods.

The City of Monterey decided to tame the traffic with a new approach that promises to reduce both congestion and heartburn—one that won’t cause smaller problems while fixing the bigger one.


“Holman The city bucked conventional thinking for interchange control by designing a roundabout to improve traffic circulation. This is ingenious because in addition to dramatically decreasing traffic accidents, roundabouts reduce delays and associated air emissions while improving interchange capacity.

One key component to this effort is careful coordination with other projects in the city, such as the Citywide Sewer Rehabilitation Program and convention center reconstruction. With thoughtful planning, these projects will dovetail to minimize the overall effect on the community.

That’s critical, because the highway has to stay open during construction. It’s one of the Monterey Peninsula’s main transportation corridors. The interchange provides access to one of only two routes in and out of Pacific Grove, the main gate for Pebble Beach and the main entrance to the Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula. 

To keep things running as smoothly as possible, the Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) set up an Interagency Task Force, which will give input to the project team and help address any issues quickly. TAMC also set up Emergency Responders and Travel Demand Management working groups to help mitigate congestion.

My team at Harris is working with TAMC on proactive community outreach to keep area motorists informed of any upcoming changes.

Accounting for natural surroundings

There are also non-human stakeholders who require attention. Prior to construction, Harris performed surveys of nesting birds and the dusty-footed wood rat, identified Monterey pine forest trees and installed fencing around environmentally sensitive areas. We prepared a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan to protect the site.

We now have the pedal to the metal so to speak and are moving forward with construction, having officially received the Notice to Proceed last Friday, April 29. We’re ready to react to unexpected developments due to weather, underground obstacles or other surprises. By the end of 2016, maddening rush hour congestion should be in the rearview mirror for travelers at the Holman Highway/Highway 1 interchange. And the road to this result should be a smooth one for all involved.

I’ll have plenty more to share on this project as it progresses. I’ll gladly pass along any lessons or takeaways that might apply to your community.

In the meantime, let me know if you have questions or comments about the new roundabout or your own experiences with traffic congestion strategies.


Bobby Pentorali, PE, QSD

Bobby's impressive record of high-profile accomplishments spans a decade of working with and for Caltrans, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, state and federal environmental regulatory agencies, utility and railroad companies and local entities. Building on his structural and civil engineering background, Bobby has gained a wider view of the project delivery process by serving in the planning, procurement and final design phases across multiple engineering disciplines. He also has experience working on the more infrequent aspects of contract administration, from complex staging and federal audits to value engineering change proposals and dispute resolution. In fact, Caltrans recognized his proactive approach to resolving contract disputes and design and construction issues with a Partnering-In-Motion Award.

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