Impact of Highway 17 lane closures growing in Santa Cruz area

SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS (KGO) -- The impact of lane closures on Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains is growing.

Commuters have seen their drive time double between San Jose and Santa Cruz, and businesses and their customers are seeing delivery delays.

Six days after a fatal accident Caltrans contractors are scrambling to get an eight foot high berm built at the base of the hill that has slammed debris into a news van and a truck near Vine Hill Road in two separate incidents. The berm's purpose is to stop future slides from falling onto vehicles using the southbound lanes, configured now for two-way traffic.

TRAFFIC: See current road conditions and warnings

With side roads impassable due to slides and washouts, commuter angst has grown. Jr. Dicker has been a Highway 17 commuter for 30 years to get from home in Aptos to work in San Jose. "I left at 5:45 this morning, and it took me two hours to get to San Jose. It took over an hour just to get through the Scotts Valley one-lane type portion."

When it rains Dicker works from home, calling 17 unsafe because of the slide risk - and other drivers. "I definitely see people being more aggressive maybe because I'm becoming a little bit older, but they're very aggressive. They follow very close."

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It's not just commuters suffering. Businesses that need to make deliveries are suffering as well. A driver for Crystal Springs Water Company says it takes him three hours to go from Santa Cruz to San Jose. He has to clock on one and a half hour early to compensate for that.

Winchester Auto tries to get parts to repair shops in Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz in two hours from its warehouses in San Jose, but it's taking more like four hours.

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"Put yourself in the shoes of a customer. They took their car in. They expect it by the end of the day otherwise they have to rent a car. I can't get them the part in time. It's just not good for consumers all the way down," Winchester Auto Assistant Manager Rick Paris said.

Some employees at Gold Rush Express Delivery can work remotely - a high tech option. But, others face a tough road ahead.

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