Gilroy is a City located in Santa Clara County in the extent of southern Santa Clara Valley. Former US Route 101 before the present freeway was constructed was aligned on Monterey Street. California State Route 152 originally multiplexed US Route 101 in downtown Gilroy on Monterey Street.
Part 1; the history of US Route 101 in Gilroy
Gilroy's origins date back to Alta California and the arrival of Scotsman John Gilroy. John Gilroy was a crew member of armed merchant ship Issac Todd which was sent by the North West Company during the War of 1812 to capture American Fort Astoria. The Issac Todd arrived in the Spanish port of Monterey in January of 1814 where John Gilroy was either left behind or jumped ship to recover from Scurvy.
John Gilroy was a barrel maker and spent the next several years plying his trade in northern Alta California. John Gilroy eventually came to Rancho San Ysidro (which was on the Spanish El Camino Real) where he converted to Catholicism and became the first English speaking naturalized citizen of Alta California. In 1821 (the same year the Mexican's won independence from Spain) John Gilroy married Maria Clara who was the daughter of rancher Ygnacio Ortega. Upon the death of Ygnacio Ortega in 1833 Rancho San Ysidro was divided up between his three children. Following the Mexican-American War of 1848 the property rights to Rancho San Ysidro were granted to John Gilroy.
John Gilroy's property would soon grow into a town bearing his name. Given the close proximity of Gilroy to Pacheco Pass it became a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail route from 1858 to 1861. Gilroy can be seen on the 1857 Britton & Rey's Map of California along the stage route connecting to San Juan Bautista and footpath connecting to Pacheco Pass.
In 1868 Gilroy incorporated as a town and successfully lobbied to become a stop on the new Southern Pacific Railroad Line. The core of Gilroy was relocated westward to where the Southern Pacific Railroad would pass by and the original Town core came to be known as Old Gilroy. The Southern Pacific reached Gilroy by 1869 and was reincorporated as a City in March of 1870. Gilroy's street grid was plotted out in 1870 which included Monterey Street and Hecker Pass Highway. Gilroy at it's present location can be seen on the 1873 Bancroft's Map of California. Old Gilroy would eventually decline into a sparse agricultural area which can be found today on California State Route 152 ("CA 152") near Frazier Lake Road.
Gilroy was ultimately part of the American El Camino Real which began being signed as an Auto Trail starting in 1906. The era of State Highway Maintenance through Gilroy would ultimately begin with the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act which was approved by voters in 1910. One of the highways approved through the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act was a 481.8 mile highway originating at the City Limits of San Francisco which terminated in San Diego. This highway would ultimately come to be known in time as Legislative Route Number 2 ("LRN 2").
In 1913 the Pacific Highway was plotted as a major Auto Trail which had Gilroy along it's planned route. During the 1915 Second Highway Bond Act Gilroy would become the western terminus of LRN 32. According to CAhighways.org the original definition of LRN 32 was:
"an extension connecting the San Joaquin valley trunk line at a point between the city of Merced in Merced County and the city of Madera in Madera County with the coast trunk line at or near the city of Gilroy in Santa Clara County, through Pacheco Pass, by the most direct and practical route."
Early LRN 2/American El Camino Real/Pacific Highway can be seen on Monterey Street in Gilroy along with the western terminus of LRN 32 entering the City via Old Gilroy Street in on the 1917 California State Automobile Association Map.
The May/June 1955 California Highways & Public Works discusses the widening and grade correction of Monterey Street in Gilroy. LRN 2 on Monterey Street is described as having first been paved with 15 foot wide slabs of concrete in 1914 but was soon expanded to 60 feet by 1921. This initial widening included use of a thickened road surface which paved over the original curves and created a sub-standard slope in LRN 2. The widening/grade correction project on Monterey Street is stated to have been finished on March 1st with the new lighting being completed by March 25th.
The March/April 1960 California Highways & Public Works announced the Ford Road-Gilroy freeway planning study had been completed and progressed to public hearings.
The May/June 1961 California Highways & Public Works announced the adoption of a freeway alignment of US 101 between San Jose-Gilroy. Said alignment is stated as having a planned length of 24.6 miles.
The planned San Jose-Gilroy freeway upgrade of US 101 doesn't appear on a Division of Highways Map until the 1967 edition.
US 101 was completed to freeway standards in Gilroy by 1972. This in turned moved US 101 off of Monterey Street onto the modern freeway bypass (known as the Valley Freeway). CA 152 was shifted onto the new freeway between Exit 356/10th Street and Exit 357/Leavesley Road. CA 152 followed Leavesley Road west to Monterey Street where it jogged south to reach 1st Street. The 1975 Caltrans State Map displays the then new alignments of US 101 and CA 152 in Gilroy.
Part 2; a drive on former US Route 101 and California State Route 152 in Gilroy
Our tour of former US 101 and CA 152 in Gilroy begins on present CA 152 westbound approaching Exit 356. Modern CA 152 west enters a multiplex with US 101 on the Valley Freeway north a mile to Exit 357.
The original alignment of CA 152 departed the present alignment at the Exit 356 interchange northwest via Old Gilroy Street to Monterey Street. This alignment was bisected by the current freeway and traffic now must stay on 10th Street to meet former US 101 at Monterey Street. From 10th Street former US 101 northbound can be accessed via a right hand turn.
The initial jog of former US 101 north on Monterey Street reveals a four lane roadway. At Old Gilroy Street former CA 152 would have been picked up by US 101 northbound.
Approaching 5th Street former US 101 north/CA 152 west on Monterey Street narrows. This narrowing of Monterey Street was constructed to permit additional parking in downtown Gilroy.
At 1st Street former US 101 north/CA 152 west on Monterey Street meet the current alignment of CA 152. North of 1st Street the alignment of Monterey Street expands back to four lanes.