Jan 17, 2014 6:39 PM by April Hansen, KSBY
An $11 million dollar freeway connection in Santa Maria is giving some local residents headaches.
The Union Valley Parkway Interchange provides access from Highway 101 to Orcutt, but some neighbors are frustrated with its design.
The median that drivers pass when getting on and off the freeway is the concern with some neighbors. Residents living in that neighborhood can't turn left to get into their community, so they have to drive to another intersection farther down. Some residents say some drivers are making illegal U-turns there, which the California Highway Patrol says can be a safety hazard.
Caltrans says close to 40,000 drivers travel through the area every day and some local residents say they've noticed.
"There's a lot more traffic in the neighborhood," said Reimen Gonzalez.
Gonzalez says the biggest problem is at Boardwalk.
"There are illegal U-turns happening in that intersection to come into this neighborhood," said Gonzalez.
Some neighbors say they are frustrated because they can't take a left onto Union Valley Parkway or a left hand turn into their own neighborhood
"We are used to being able to go right there so it's a pain for everyone I think," said Kelley Comeau.
"Residents in that neighborhood have an alternate westbound route at Woodmere available to them and Union Valley Parkway has improved residents' access to US 101," says Caltrans spokesperson Jim Shivers.
"We have had one crash that has been attributed to that so far this year to my knowledge at this point," said CHP Officer Craig Carrier.
Officer Carrier says drivers will be cited if they are caught making an illegal U-turn at that median. He says drivers should only make a U-turn if an intersection allows it.
"People exiting the freeway need to be aware that people may be slowing down to make a U-turn in front of them," said Officer Carrier.
Caltrans also says making a U-turn at that median blocks the flow of traffic coming on and off the freeway.
Officer Carrier says there have been eight accidents in the Union Valley Parkway area since it opened in November, but only one of them was caused by an illegal U-turn.
The Union Valley Parkway Interchange opened after more than 45 years of planning. It was funded by a voter-approved bond measure and Measure A sales tax dollars dedicated to transportation projects.
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