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The construction over the past year has been part of the U.S. 101 Old Redwood Highway Interchange Improvement Project, one of three major interchange projects that have enveloped the city.

Like the similar East Washington Street interchange and the South Petaluma Blvd project at Highway 116, the impact on motorists has been a series of traffic delays and confusion.

"It's going to be a mess for a while," noted Stephenson.

But the end result, in the opinion of policy-makers, make it worthwhile. "The project's improvements will reduce travel time, decrease congestion, enhance safety, improve pedestrian and bicycle access, improve air quality and improve traffic flow on local streets at the interchange and on U.S. 101," Amsk said.

Current traffic conditions at the north Petaluma interchange should remain about the same for at least five months, until the next stage of the construction process.

The Petaluma Blvd. North and Old Redwood Highway interchange project should be completed in mid-2015. At that time, only the planned HOV lanes running from the county line through Petaluma will remain unbuilt at the new interchange.

The county's roadway fund through Measure M has been depleted, and the final leg of the HOV lane additions through Petaluma falls about $90 million short at this point, of the total projected budget of $1.2 billion for the entire Highway 101 widening project from Novato to Windsor. That stage of the project will not move forward until the funding is in place, according to the Sonoma County Transportation Authority.

Meanwhile another construction projects in town suffered "a small mishap" at East Washington Street, according to Public Works manager Larry Zimmer. While filling a water main with slurry, a pipe broke filling the soil with slurry and creating a bump in the roadway.

"This occurred just west of Copeland, near the entrance to the Golden Eagle shopping center and has resulted in the inside lane for eastbound traffic getting coned off," he said.