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Petaluma may extend main drag’s ‘road diet’ farther south

By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Petaluma’s controversial “road diet” along the main drag through downtown may be extended farther south.

At Monday’s meeting, City Council members are set to consider whether to seek as much as $3.1 million in grant money to fund what would be a third section of shrinkage along Petaluma Boulevard.

Despite the concerns of some business owners along the street, particularly through the historic downtown segment, the council gave the go-ahead to two construction projects that have reduced the number of traffic lanes but widened the remaining lanes and adjacent parallel-parking lanes.

The “road diet” reduced the main thoroughfare from two lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction with a continuous turn-lane in between, serving both directions. The section of Petaluma Boulevard north of Washington Street was completed first and the downtown stretch between Washington and D Street is under construction now.

Council members now will consider seeking grant money to reconfigure the section from D Street to McNear Avenue.

Project Manager Larry Zimmer said the road arguably needs repaving more than a wholesale reconfiguration, but because the narrow traffic lanes no longer meet federal standards, the road cannot just be repaved without upgrades.

Petaluma Boulevard is one of four streets in the city — along with D Street, Lakeville and Washington — that are eligible for federal road funds. And these federal grants, part of the One Bay Area Grant program, must be used in a “priority development area,” which includes Petaluma Boulevard.

About $23 million of the $320 million total available could be allocated in Sonoma County. The funding is competitive, not just parceled out to each jurisdiction, so satisfying the grant criteria is important, Zimmer said.

“This project had it all,” Zimmer said. “Having a project that meets all the points gives us the best opportunity to get largest amount of money.”

The reconfiguration would replace the current four 10-foot lanes and two 6-foot parking lanes on either side with three 12-foot traffic lanes — one that would be a center turn lane — and two 8-foot parking lanes.

That leaves more space for parallel parking and bicycles, and cuts down the distance in which crossing pedestrians are vulnerable to cars.

The wider traffic lanes also reduce side-swipe accidents, which are common in the narrow downtown stretch, and allow through traffic to continue without delay because turning vehicles will use the center lane.

But council approval of the road-diet plan is far from guaranteed, Zimmer acknowledged. Funding for the downtown section passed with a 4-3 vote, with David Glass, Chris Albertson, Teresa Barrett and Tiffany Renee voting for it.

Albertson said he supports continuing the road diet through to McNear Avenue.

“If the road diet is not going to be an issue for the historic downtown and the business area, I’m in favor of doing it if we can get the road itself paved,” he said. “Just to make it two lanes instead of four is not as important to me unless in so doing it we can repave that entire road.”

The city would be responsible for matching about $420,000 of the project’s $3.1 million cost, Zimmer said.

If the council rejects the road diet plan, Zimmer said the city could apply for $2 million in grants to fund other smaller repaving projects.





8 Responses to “Petaluma may extend main drag’s ‘road diet’ farther south”

  1. James Bennett says:

    Steveguy: Even worse. If memory serves,
    MTC is using close to $300. billion over the next 25 years to bribe cities in the Bay Area into playing ball with them.

    The ball game of course is to oppress us.
    Take away our freedom of choice in terms of where and how we live. Crash this economy, usher in their fascist state run economy.
    Contain and stifle commerce, and us.

    The OneBayArea game is rigged…we lose.

    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  2. patrick says:

    Keep it coming. The sooner the better.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  3. Petaluman says:

    The recent election in Petaluma was a resounding victory for business and a denouncement of the stupidity that has plagued this Council.

    This is why the current council is rushing to approve this non sense before they are out. It will prove to be a terrible mistake for them.

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 3

  4. Bad choices says:

    The road diet section already in place backs up traffic on Petaluma Blvd. so badly that I now avoid the downtown area if at all possible. Adding more road diet will make it even worse. Good luck merchants-aking it as hard as possible to get downtown doesn’t sound like much of a business plan.

    Thumb up 26 Thumb down 4

  5. 0 Representation says:

    What a really bad joke. Shame on you Petaluma City Council. I think you all forget who you work for… You know the people of Petaluma not YOUR pet causes.

    Thumb up 28 Thumb down 3

  6. Steveguy says:

    One Bay Area has $320 MILLION to waste ( spend) in Sonoma County ??

    I thought that the State is broke. Why do they get BILLIONS to spread around while crying about schools ?

    They want to ‘discourage driving’ by making it more difficult to drive.

    What if the MILLIONS went to fix Petaluma’s famously un-repaired roads ?

    What if.

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 4

  7. barbi says:

    More brilliance from the “SMART” group! The federal government does not take in enough money via taxes, fees, etc to even cover mandatory spending (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Defense), so the money for this boondoggle will all be borrowed on the backs of our children. But heh! The money is there! Let’s get it and let our kids worry about how to pay it back. Because we are all so green, sustainable and SMART!
    When the inevitable collapse of the federal government occurs and our kids are paying 75% tax rates with no hope of getting out of poverty, we can sit in our rockets and reflect on how SMART we were! We wasted their futures on road diets! The brilliance! Or, the immorality!!!!!

    Thumb up 30 Thumb down 4

  8. James Bennett says:

    Never mind what the people want.

    Along with the “Complete Street” model, these business diets, sorry, “Road Diets” are an integral part of the hardscape that ICLEI bribes (grant $) our cities into installing.

    Small business, automobile, property rights sabotage achieved through thier brand of civil engineering.

    How do they know when the street is complete?

    When everyone except the Public-Private mall Partners are out of business?

    Thumb up 38 Thumb down 6

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