On the day the new Graton Resort & Casino opened last week, northbound traffic on Highway 101 backed up from Rohnert Park all the way to Novato. It took drivers an hour to travel just 22 miles.
The pace of work to widen Highway 101 through Sonoma County is picking up and shifting to Petaluma, where four major projects to rebuild overpasses and bridges will start within the next few months. It will also probably make Petaluma traffic a mess until work is completed in late 2014.
Replacing and widening the Highway 101 bridges over the Petaluma River is the next major step in a billion-dollar freeway project that has proceeded in spurts over the past decade — and is now within a few years of completion. The state is expected Wednesday to approve $82 million for construction that could begin this fall to replace the parallel spans over the Petaluma River that are one of the bottlenecks on the highway from Windsor to Marin County.