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Highway 101 work to start here soon

Work on rebuilding the East Washington interchange could start soon.

Terry Hankins/ Argus-Courier Staff
Published: Friday, October 21, 2011 at 8:12 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 21, 2011 at 8:12 a.m.

Changes to Petaluma's Highway 101 corridor will be underway soon, with construction on the new East Washington Street onramp and interchange starting in the coming months. Other changes are set to follow in 2012.

The East Washington Street project will most notably reconfigure the northbound onramp so that westbound drivers on East Washington Street no longer have to make a left-hand turn to get on the freeway.

This should ease traffic congestion in the area, said John Maitland, deputy director for the Sonoma County Transportation Authority. This project is scheduled to begin the construction phase this fall, and Maitland said the bidding process is nearly complete. A bid came in at $8.3 million, about 20 percent lower than predicted.

Caltrans must still officially award the bid, but Maitland estimates that construction could start in the next four to six weeks.

Drivers shouldn't encounter too much congestion as a result of the construction, as the first phase will likely involve relocating utilities like gas and electric lines. Even when full-fledged construction takes place, much of it will be off the current highway system. At some point, a water line will have to be worked on at East Washington Street, and that could affect traffic, said Maitland.

Construction on the interchange at Petaluma Boulevard South and the Petaluma River bridge is scheduled to start in the summer of 2012. The Petaluma River bridge — the one that carries the highway across the river — doesn't meet today's standards, and so it must be replaced.

There will be sporadic closures throughout the project, though the goal is to have two lanes open in each direction on Highway 101 much of the time, said Maitland. Transportation authorities plan to hold meetings with residents before construction begins, probably in the spring of 2012, to discuss concerns.

Modifications to the Old Redwood Highway interchange are set to enter the construction phase in 2013.

Another project would add high-occupancy vehicle lanes through central Petaluma, but doesn't yet have funding for construction. However, transportation authorities have begun designing the project with the hope that money will become available. According to a recent SCTA Highway 101 corridor update, about $86 million is needed to fund the HOV lanes in Petaluma.

Caltrans will carry out these projects. Funding is different for each project and comes from a variety of sources, including Measure M funds, local Petaluma funds, and federal funds.

(Contact Jamie Hansen at jamie.hansen@arguscourier.com)

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