By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
State transportation planners are recommending a $45 million allocation for rebuilding the Highway 101 bridges over the Petaluma River, a key part of the on-going freeway widening work through Sonoma and Marin counties.
The California Transportation Commission will act June 23 on its staff recommendation.
“This is a major step toward being able to add the third lane in each direction,” said Suzanne Smith, executive director of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority. “You can’t have a choke point at the bridge, that makes a third lane through Petaluma unworkable.”
The $45 million is part of $123.5 million in Proposition 1B highway bond funds being allocated in Northern California. The money is from savings from projects coming in under estimates during the economic downturn.
In Sonoma County alone those savings have amounted to $56 million in widening costs from Windsor to north Petaluma, which the state is allowing Sonoma County to use on other Highway 101 projects.
The additional $45 million was recommended Thursday by state transportation planners, Smith said.
There are four separate bridges at the south edge of Petaluma, which include north and southbound structures that cross the river itself and north and southbound structures that cross Highway 116.
The state estimates that it will cost $57 million to replace the two Petaluma River bridges with wider structures which will allow a third carpool lane.
The southbound bridge over Highway 116 already has been replaced, and a new northbound bridge over Highway 116 is estimated to cost $35 million to $40 million.
Carpool lanes have been added to Highway 101 from Windsor to Rohnert Park, with work under way now to extend the lanes through Rohnert Park and Cotati to the Old Redwood Highway in Petaluma.
Right-of-way acquisition and design work also is under way for a six-lane freeway and frontage roads as part of the Novato Narrows widening project from the southern edge of Petaluma to Novato, but that project still needs $300 million in funding.
There currently are no funds to widen Highway 101 through Petaluma.
You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.