The city will hold a meeting tonight to show the proposed design for converting a downtown portion of Petaluma Boulevard from four narrow lanes to two broader ones and a two-way left turn lane.

The city hopes to get input from downtown business owners who will be affected by the changes, as well as other community members who may be concerned, said Engineering Manager Larry Zimmer.

The project's goal is to improve safety between Washington and D streets, where the lanes are very narrow and lead to side-swiping, Zimmer emphasized. At the same time, he said, traffic should not be impacted by the changes.

The Petaluma Downtown Association sent out a survey to its members recently to gauge store owners' feelings on the project. Members of the association have expressed concern in the past about whether or not delivery trucks will have room to stop as well as increased traffic congestion.

In 2007, Petaluma Boulevard north of Washington Street underwent a similar road diet in order to improve safety and accommodate parking and pedestrians in 2007. Since then, accidents have decreased on that stretch of road while congestion has not increased, said Zimmer.

Bids for the project will go out early next year, with construction likely to start in June or July, said Senior Civil Engineer Erica Ahmann Smithies. The engineers emphasized that they want to work with downtown business owners to ensure that construction doesn't interfere with busy shopping times or major events.

The meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, at Graziano's Ristorante at 170 Petaluma Blvd. South.

To see the plans and get more information, visit