North Bay commuters are set to get more relief from roadway snarls in the next few years, as voters in 2018 approved more money for road and rail projects and left in place a statewide fuel tax designed to fund such endeavors.
The California Transportation Commission in May approved nearly $85 million to widen Highway 101 in southern Sonoma County from the Petaluma River to Corona Road. Set for completion in 2023, that would help Petaluma’s long-planned Rainer crosstown connector.
In addition to Highway 101 widening underway this year from the Marin County line to the Petaluma River, the Petaluma section would complete $1 billion-plus in expansion of the freeway from the county line to Windsor that began in 2001.
The funding comes from Senate Bill 1, a state gas-tax increase passed by the Legislature in 2017. Also getting SB 1 money is the extension of the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit line to Windsor. It will provide $21 million of the $55 million project, which is set for completion in 2021-2022.
But SB 1 survived a serious test at the polls in November, as Proposition 6 would have reversed the SB 1 tax.
Money to widen Highway 101 from the Marin-Sonoma county line south to Novato, a section called the Narrows, will be coming from Regional Measure 3, which San Francisco Bay Area voters approved in June. The toll increase on state-run local bridges is providing $120 million to that project.
RM 3 also is funding $100 million in Highway 37 expansion planning, $20 million in Highway 29 improvements in Napa Valley, $255 million in Solano County freeway and rail upgrades, $30 million for a new San Rafael transit center and $210 million to upgrade access to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
Without RM 3, Solano County would have to rely on tolls, state grants, Solano Transportation Improvement Program and federal funding, since it’s the only Bay Area county without a sales tax for transportation projects, according to Daryl Halls of the Solano Transportation Authority.
Narrows funding from RM 3 and SB 1 could allow work to start in the Petaluma area next year then in Marin in 2020, according to Suzanne Smith of Sonoma County Transportation Authority.
Expansion and elevation of the 22-mile Highway 37 out of projected flood areas will require coordination between Sonoma, Marin, Napa and Solano counties, Smith said. Short-term work could start next year, but tolls or public-private ventures could be required for the $1 billion to $4 billion project, she said.
Big North Bay business stories of 2018
This is one of 10 recaps of major changes for or impacts on commerce in Sonoma, Solano, Marin, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties this year.