By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma Avenue will lose a lane for cars but gain two lanes for bicycles under a contract awarded by the Santa Rosa City Council on Tuesday night.
The $287,000 project, awarded to Novato firm Republic ITS, is the latest in a series of “road diet” projects aimed at making streets safer by limiting vehicle lanes and adding bike lanes.
Instead of two vehicle travel lanes in each direction, Sonoma Avenue between Montgomery Village and Santa Rosa Avenue will be realigned to have three travel lanes — one in each direction plus a middle turn lane. With the saved space, bicycle lanes will be installed in each direction.
The work is scheduled to begin in October and take two weeks. It is the second phase of a project to make Sonoma Avenue more bicycle-friendly.
The first phase involved the installation of “sharrows,” or bicycle icons and arrows, urging drivers to share the road with bicyclists between Hahman and Yulupa avenues, and bike lanes from Yulupa to Summerfield Avenue. Once the second phase is completed, the bike lanes will create a nearly seamless corridor for cyclists to travel between Howarth Park and neighboring county and state parks in east Santa Rosa to the Prince Memorial Greenway and various bike trails in the west of the city.
The project is similar to the project on Hoen Avenue that ran into some opposition because it caused traffic to move more slowly through the area.
But City Traffic Engineer Rob Sprinkle said the traffic volumes on Sonoma Avenue are lower, which should make the project go smoothly.
A push last year by residents of the Luther Burbank Gardens neighborhood to reduce Santa Rosa Avenue from four travel lanes to two was rejected because traffic volumes were considered too high for it to work.