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Highway 17 Lanes to Close Thursday For Laurel Curve Barrier Installation

Southbound and northbound fast lanes will close at 8 and 8:30 a.m., respectively, weather permitting.

Caltrans has announced it will close the southbound and northbound fast lanes of Highway 17 at Laurel Curve Thursday at 8 and 8:30 a.m., respectively, to begin installation of a concrete median barrier weather permitting.

The closure is in response to safety concerns following a on this deadly section of the highway that claimed the life of a Brentwood man who lost control of his vehicle while traveling southbound and crossed into northbound traffic.

The Laurel Road exit near the scene of the deadly crash is located north of Scotts Valley and about 12 miles south of Los Gatos' main entrance to the freeway.

According to a traffic advisory issued Wednesday, the highway's pavement has to be dry for roadwork to take place. If there is no rain by Thursday morning, the southbound No. 1 (fast) lane will close at 8 a.m. and the northbound No. 1 (fast) lane will close at 8:30 a.m.

If rain occurs, the closures will take place later in the morning. If rain continues throughout the day, roadwork will be re-scheduled for a later date, the advisory said.

The length of Thursday’s closure depends on the progress of the work which will consist of two days of work, Caltrans officials said.

In addition, Caltrans is moving forward with plans to install experimental
high-friction pavement treatment and a southbound curve warning sign along
Highway 17 at Laurel Curve.

Department of Transportation spokeswoman Susan Cruz asked for motorists to drive carefully along the Highway 17 corridor, especially during the remaining weeks of the wet weather season.

She also reminded motorists to move over and slow down when driving through  highway construction zones.

Friday's crash was reported at 10:43 a.m., north of Scotts Valley.

The victim, identified as 57-year-old Gerard Wener, of Brentwood, was driving south in a gray 2005 Nissan Altima when he lost control and crossed into northbound traffic, according to the CHP.

The Nissan struck the side of a Chevrolet Suburban and spun around, then hit the front of a Toyota 4Runner, occupied by Scotts Valley residents Matthew and Gretchen Clark and their 5-year-old child, CHP officials said.

The 4Runner then collided with the side of an Acura Integra.

Wener was pronounced dead at the scene, and the Clark family was taken to Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz.

The occupants of the Chevrolet and the Acura were not injured.

The crash shut down northbound Highway 17 and one southbound lane for about three hours.

The CHP is still investigating what caused Wener to lose control but reminded motorists to slow down in inclement weather.

—Bay City News Service contributed to this report

Bruce March 22, 2012 at 01:26 PM
That can only mean that left turns will be prohibited into and out of Laurel. But nobody has said that explicitly. Reasonable thing to do, but not said explicitly.
Jenni Chalmers March 22, 2012 at 03:49 PM
That's the info. I was looking for too, Bruce. I wish someone would clearly state that the barrier will prevent left turns into and out of Laurel Drive, and then say what people are supposed to do instead. I've never had to make that left turn, but I'm just curious as to how it will work now. And I'm glad for the barrier - there have been too many accidents there recently. Wasn't there another head-on collision there less than a year ago? I was also surprised the article only mentioned the most recent crash, and not the history of collisions in that particular spot.

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