Highway 101 widening project jumps financial hurdle

The Sonoma County Transportation Authority on Monday approved $4.5 million to buy land to widen Highway 101 to six lanes through Petaluma, but it will be at least three years, and perhaps longer, before there is a remedy to the bottleneck that has plagued commuters for years.

One of the two remaining four-lane sections of Highway 101 in Sonoma County from Windsor south to the Marin County line now is nearly ready for construction, though transportation officials have not secured the $90 million needed to widen the highway from just north of Corona Road to the Petaluma River.

The project, which has money for design and environmental work, on Monday got has the last piece of funding needed to attract state and federal money for construction, said SCTA executive director Suzanne Smith.

Transportation officials expect to complete the design and environmental work next month. The agency is reviewing an option to phase construction of the project if less than the full $90 million price tag is identified, officials said.

The SCTA money for right-of-way work comes from Measure M, a Sonoma County sales tax. The agency and Caltrans now will start the process of buying land from willing sellers.

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