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County’s board of supervisors OKs funding for Penngrove traffic study

County officials announced the study’s approval in an Aug. 9 news release, saying $500,000 of traffic mitigation funds will be allocated for the study.|

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has reached a funding agreement with the Sonoma County Transportation Authority to launch a traffic study in Penngrove, after a group of residents raised yearslong concerns that there is too much traffic and congestion in their small community. And while some residents said it’s just a start for the solutions they want to see implemented, county officials reassured their needs will be met.

County officials announced the study’s approval in an Aug. 9 news release, saying $500,000 of traffic mitigation funds will be allocated for the study.

“We have heard our constituents' significant concerns over increased traffic disturbance in the Penngrove area,” Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt said in a news release. “This traffic study is the first step to a lasting solution for the community.”

Once completed, the study will provide analysis of existing traffic conditions on the Railroad Avenue corridor in Penngrove and make recommendations for intersection improvements, congestion relief and other traffic calming solutions.

Lyndi Brown is chair of the Penngrove Cares Steering Committee, a group of nearly a dozen Penngrove residents, formed at the end of 2021 to explore a variety of issues deemed important to the greater Penngrove community, including public safety, noise and more.

Brown said there was confusion over whether or not the approved study would take possible future traffic conditions into account, or just existing conditions, but Rabbitt had assured residents the study would cover both.

“We’re glad to see a study take place, and have been assured by Mr. Rabbitt it will include existing and forecasts of conditions,” Brown said Wednesday.

Brown added, while the new traffic study could help ease the growing problem, residents would also like to see similar action taken to study other area roads, like the Adobe Road and Petaluma Hill Road corridors, to further assist traffic circulation.

The study comes after a Dec. 9 town hall, where county leaders heard from the residents on their long-simmering frustrations with the amount of cars lining through the 3,000-person, unincorporated community, which has nearly tripled in the past two decades.

Major factors behind the uptick in traffic congestion involve new housing development, freeway construction and pick-up and drop-off from Penngrove Elementary School located at Petaluma Hill and Old Adobe roads.

Brown said the congestive traffic patterns in Penngrove don’t just pose a nuisance to residents but also can contribute to delayed response times for emergency service calls to unincorporated rural areas, which Brown would like to see further addressed in the general plan process, as well.

A $3,500 mitigation fee was instituted on all new housing units in the area, after residents were successful in a lawsuit two decades ago that accentuated traffic and water concerns associated with new development in Rohnert Park.

Officials have collected about $7 million in fees so far, Rabbitt said in a previous interview, and have spent $2.3 million on transportation projects, such as the construction of the public pedestrian-bicycle pathway that runs through each Sonoma-Marin Area Transit station, leaving about $4.7 million for eligible projects along the Petaluma Hill Road corridor. About $19 million in Measure M dollars also was up for grabs countywide, some of which Rabbitt expects to go to Penngrove.

Sonoma County’s Transportation and Public Works Department will obtain full cost recovery for all involved department time and resources for the study, the news release said, including consultant costs.

Amelia Parreira is a staff writer for the Argus-Courier. She can be reached at amelia.parreira@arguscourier.com or 707-521-5208.

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