A yearlong enforcement push to reduce the danger of traffic crashes on a high-risk section of Highway 1 between Castroville and the Santa Cruz County line will start next week.
A $250,000 state traffic-safety grant will allow the California Highway Patrol to have more officers patrol the 13-mile highway segment on the lookout for drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs.
"You'll definitely see a lot more black-and-whites between Santa Cruz County and the Salinas River," said officer Art Carbonel, a CHP spokesman.
He said officers also will increase patrols of major connectors to Highway 1, including Highways 156 and 183, Dolan and Salinas roads, and state beach areas off the highway.
The grant will pay for stepped-up enforcement from Aug. 1 until July 30 next year. The stretch of Highway 1 in North County is one of three high-collision highway segments in California targeted by grants from the state Office of Traffic Safety.
In the past three years, there have been 12 deaths in crashes linked to alcohol or drugs on the heavily traveled, two-lane section of the highway, the CHP said.
The grant also supports public outreach and education efforts. A local task force of community members and elected officials has been pulled together to help with the campaign, Carbonel said.
The CHP will work more proactively with the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control to prevent underage drivers from obtaining alcohol, he said.
This is the second time special
state funds have allowed increased enforcement on this part of the highway, Carbonel said. A similar "safety corridor" grant was made in 1998. But this one is for a longer time, he said.
The 1998 grant improved things for a while, but the highway section's safety record has deteriorated since then. "There just is more traffic," Carbonel said.
The CHP also is working with state parks, Moss Landing harbor and state highway officials on the safety push, he said. A news conference to kick off the campaign is scheduled Thursday in Moss Landing.
Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or firstname.lastname@example.org.