Caltrans explains notorious Hwy 17 'wet spot'

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It’s hard enough driving on Highway 17 at Big Moody Curve between San Jose and Santa Cruz. The curve is infamous for accidents. Now, a wet spot southbound along that sharp curve past Bear Creek Road before Redwood Estates is making driving even more dangerous.

“There’s a place where water comes across and sometimes the car will slip just a little,” said Brian Coburn of Los Gatos.

“It’s like a graveyard for car parts,” said Lisa Sundquist who lives at the Summit. “There are license plates and fenders and all kinds of crap from all the accidents that have happened.”

Known as the “Wet Spot,” commuters are airing their frustration on Facebook on the “Highway 17 Commuters” page. Skyfox capturing a car flipped on its side being towed away Tuesday morning. Sundquist said she's seen eight accidents in the last few weeks.

“It’s always wet,” said Sundquist. “Cars have been flipped over. I don't understand why Caltrans can't do something to prevent the moisture from coming down the hillside.”

According to Caltrans, the water is coming from the saturated hillsides. Culverts over time are plugged with debris and trash. Caltrans is aware of the problem. While crews try to routinely clear the culverts, so water can flow freely, resources are at times strapped.

“One of the things we've had to face in recent weeks is that we've had multiple locations we've needed to respond to whether it's mudslides, rockslides,” said Jim Shivers of Caltrans.

Meantime, Caltrans is asking for patience urging drivers to slow down. At the “Wet Spot,” many drivers were going well past the speed limit of 50.
“If you drove the speed limit I’m sure you would have many fewer accidents or maybe none,” said Andrew Fitzcharles of Los Gatos.

Caltrans said it doesn't have a long-term fix. Some commuters want geologists to study the hillside. Drivers are encouraged to drive with caution.