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.
A major Petaluma road project, already behind schedule, will now be broken into two phases so downtown merchants can make the most of holiday sales.
The city is overhauling Petaluma Boulevard from East Washington Street through the heart of the downtown shopping district, similar to the change that was completed farther north on the street in 2008.
The so-called ‘road diet’ will reduce the number of lanes on the street, but widen them and add a two-way turn lane in the middle. The change is meant to modernize the lane widths and create a safer environment for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.
Water Street, which as its namesake implies, parallels the river, curving behind businesses that front Petaluma Boulevard. In 2003, the city completed a waterfront redevelopment project that revamped Water Street with benches, installed a cobblestone promenade at Western Avenue, removed a chunk of parking spaces behind the businesses and prohibited most through traffic. Now the city is planning a ‘road diet’ on Petaluma Boulevard and some merchants are pushing to have the parking behind their storefronts returned.
At Viva Cocolat in Petaluma, customers can enjoy a gourmet truffle, a luscious chocolate bar and, at the right time of day, the view of a traffic jam through the picture windows. The popular chocolate shop in downtown Petaluma sits along a bustling strip of Petaluma Boulevard where city leaders are planning a ‘road diet,’ which has nothing to do with the indulgent treats chocolatier Lynn Wong prepares inside.
A community meeting about a plan to reconfigure Petaluma Boulevard South will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Graziano’s Italian restaurant in downtown Petaluma. City staff members will be available to answer questions and take feedback on the plan.
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 is the latest in a series of “road diet” projects aimed at making streets safer by limiting vehicle lanes and adding bike lanes.
The Petaluma City Council has affirmed its support — though just barely — for reducing the number of traffic lanes through the heart of the downtown shopping district. Many downtown merchants believe the reduction of lanes could throttle traffic so much as to make motorists — and therefore shoppers — avoid the area altogether.
Residents have been pushing the city for years to revamp a stretch of Santa Rosa Avenue with an eye toward reclaiming it as their neighborhood’s Main Street. They’d like it to have bicycle lanes, wider sidewalks, flashing crosswalks and street trees that provide shade and eye appeal. They’d appreciate benches where pedestrians can rest and on-street parking to make it easy for drivers to patronize local businesses.