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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, May 18, 2009, 1:41 pm

Stimulus, other funding set for North Bay transit projects

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    NORTH BAY – Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties plan to repair and repave roads and streets with funds allocated from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but several larger projects are funded and proceeding on schedule.

    In Napa and Solano, the Jameson Canyon Road widening has reached the design phase. The $136 million project will add two lanes and an eight-foot shoulder with a bike lane between Kelly Road in Napa and Red Top Road in Solano. Another congestion-relieving improvement – the Soscol Flyover at the intersection of Highways 29 and 22 – will go out to bid this summer, according to Diana Vargas, deputy director of the Napa County Transportation Authority.

    In the planning stage are two round-abouts intended to promote safety, one at the Highway 29 and Rutherford crossroads, the other at Silverado Trail and Highway 29.

    “Studies show that lights and stop signs are less safe than a relatively uncontrolled intersection where drivers must exercise caution,” said Ms. Vargas.

    The county is looking for funding for a study of the corridor between the Vallejo ferry terminal and the Napa transit center.

    With its $3.8 million in ARRA funds, Napa will repave the Trancas park-and-ride lot and the First Street bridge in Napa and hopes to replace at least four of its 15 carbon-spewing buses with clean-burning vehicles, she said.

    The ARRA funds come with strings: projects must be ready to go out to bid immediately, with any environmental issues resolved. That’s why most of the money will be spent on paving and surface repairs.

    In Sonoma County, $6.4 million will go to surface preservation on 60 miles of arterial roads and collectors, the roads that feed the major arteries, and 45 bridges, according to Thomas O’Kane Jr., deputy director of road maintenance and engineering for the county department of transportation and public works. “We have funding from federal agencies for repair of an additional 20 miles of road, but the federal funding cuts off at the collector level,” he said. “The back roads are in for a couple of rough years, with not much repair beyond filling potholes.”

    Sonoma County, with paved-over logging roads crisscrossing mountainous areas and summer communities now in year-round use, is particularly challenged for road repairs, he said.

    In Marin, as in Napa, the biggest problem is congestion, but funding appears to be less of a problem than it is in Sonoma. Marin just completed a long-term project to close the gap in the high-occupancy vehicle lane from mid-San Rafael to Novato. Improvements to the Novato Narrows, long a source of backups during commute hours, is in the environmental study phase. The document is expected to be completed in July, according to the Transportation Authority of Marin.

    A $15.3 million project funded by state Proposition 1B will relieve stop-and-go traffic trying to merge from Highway 580 north onto Highway 101 by building another merging lane. The county obtained $65 million from Regional Measure 2, which raised Golden Gate Bridge tolls by a dollar. It will use the money to improve the Highway 101 Greenbrae/Twin Cities corridor, complete the construction on the central Marin ferry connection and rehabilitate the Cal Park Hill tunnel and pathway.

    Marin will divide the $5.7 million ARRA funds between its cities and county jurisdictions. Sausalito, Ross and Belvedere have declined the funds, having no shovel-ready projects to apply them to.

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