By DEREK MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Installation work on bicycle lanes that have proved controversial in the city of Sonoma is set to begin.
Wendy Atkins, Sonoma’s associate planner, confirmed Friday that the work could begin any day and is supposed to be completed by Sunday. The total amount of the contract awarded to Fremont-based Chrisp Co. to perform the work was $141,703, she said.
The city is installing bicycle lanes on Fifth Street West, West MacArthur Street and Napa Road as part of an effort that began in 2007 to ease road congestion and promote environmentally friendly modes of transportation.
But not everyone has embraced the plans. The City Council in January dropped plans to install the lanes on West Spain Street after residents protested.
Fifth Street West residents mounted a similar protest over the plans, which call for removing 31 parking spaces on the west side of the street from Andrieux Street to West Napa Street, and four more spaces on the east side of the road near the Andrieux intersection.
The plans also call for reducing the number of traffic lanes on Fifth Street West between Andrieux and West Napa from four to two.
Karen Hall was among about 250 Fifth Street West residents who signed a petition asking the City Council to reconsider its 4-1 vote on Jan. 19 to install bike lanes on the three thoroughfares. Several residents complained at a subsequent public hearing that they did not feel city leaders did enough to inform them in advance of that vote.
The council, however, declined to revisit the issue, clearing the path for the city to put out bids for the work.
At her home Friday, Hall said her objection to the lanes is because they will discontinue at West Napa Street, which in her opinion is akin to bike lanes to nowhere.
She also worries about increased traffic congestion on the street, particularly when parents are dropping off and picking up their children outside Sassarini Elementary School.
“I like bike lanes, but I don’t see this as the best use of our time or money,” Hall said.
Several doors down, Melissa Byrne said she supports the bike lanes. She said she hasn’t had a car in years and would like to see others follow her example.
“I’m all for the lanes. I don’t think we need to use so much fossil fuel,” she said.
Sonoma budgeted $171,500 for the bicycle lane and striping project, which includes $24,705 for the designs, Atkins said.
Of that amount, $135,542 is from a Sonoma County Transportation Authority grant and $35,500 from a $7.5 million bond issued by the city’s redevelopment agency for public works projects.
Atkins said Chrisp is supposed to notify residents prior to starting the installation work. A company representative did not return a phone call on Friday.
Atkins said the work on Fifth Street West also will include upgrades to two lighted crosswalks near the school, including the addition of audible warnings.
On West MacArthur Street, the addition of the bike lanes will require removing all of the parking area on the south side of the street, equal to 84 spaces.
Work on the Napa Road lanes won’t begin until next year, Atkins said.
The city also is installing less restrictive bike lanes on the following roads:
– Second Street East between MacArthur Lane and the Sonoma bike path;
– Third Street West between Arroyo Way and West Spain Street;
– Oregon Street from Studley Street to Seventh Street West;
– Seventh Street West between Oregon Street and West Napa Street;
– Curtain Lane between Seventh Street West and Fifth Street West.