State Route 17 Shaded Fuel Break Project Completed
6.5 Miles of Highway 17 between Los Gatos and the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains now features a completed shaded fuelbreak. This highway corridor through the wooded slopes of Lexington Hills serves as a critical escape route for thousands of residents and commuters in this wildfire-prone landscape. Work began on this project on August 26th, 2019.
The $9 million project was the largest and one of the most complex of Governor Newsom’s 2019 priority list wildfire protection projects. Through an unprecedented CALFIRE-Caltrans-Santa Clara County FireSafe Council joint partnership, many challenges were overcome to complete this historic accomplishment. Secretary Wade Crowfoot of the Resources Agency ensured strong environmental protection measures were applied in a way that expedited the project. Work was suspended for periods of time due to rainfall, high fire danger and Covid-19 shelter in place orders.
The collaboration built cooperation among multiple public agencies at the state, county and local levels along with private landowners and contractors. These new relationships will continue to produce additional benefits to enhance wildfire safety in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Construction of the planned fuelbreak was completed on Wednesday, May 27th. Additional erosion control treatments and debris removal continued through Friday, May 29th.
The Santa Clara County Firesafe Council will continue to lead work on complementary projects near the highway to strengthen the fuel break’s effectiveness. The goal is to further improve wildfire resiliency for neighborhoods along the Highway 17 corridor.
Caltrans also plans to continue with additional hazardous tree removal to help prevent dead, dying or leaning trees from falling into the roadway.