Petaluma is in line to receive an infusion of regional transportation funding, which could help complete projects including a narrowing of Petaluma Boulevard South and a bike path along the SMART train tracks.
The $3.5 million for Petaluma is part of a $26 million countywide funding package announced by the Sonoma County Transportation Authority last week. Most of the funding comes from federal gas tax, though the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s One Bay Area Grant, vehicle license fees and state sales tax.
The road diet will extend work already completed on Petaluma Boulevard. The road has been narrowed from Lakeville Street to E Street. With the new funding, Petaluma Boulevard South will go from four to two lanes from E Street to the round about at Crystal Lane in the Quarry Heights development.
Petaluma’s Deputy Director of Public Works Larry Zimmer said that the project is fully approved and fully funded. The money is expected in the 2018 funding cycle and construction is expected to begin in 2019 and take about one year to complete.
“We got the complete ask,” he said. “It’s wonderful. The great thing about getting the full construction money is now we can do the full project.”
Dave Alden, a member of the city’s Transit Advisory Committee, said he helped push the city to apply for the grant to fund the road diet. He said that road diets have a calming effect on traffic and make roadways safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
“Because you have more asphalt, it reallocates the asphalt to provide a better experience to pedestrians and bicyclists,” he said. “I’m a big fan.”
The Petaluma Boulevard North road diet was controversial as some motorists said it created a bottleneck where the road narrows. However, Zimmer said that traffic counts show that the same number of cars are using the street in the same amount of time as before the road diet.
The Petaluma Boulevard South segment is marked by potholes and cracks. Zimmer said that the road diet will also repave the street. He said that, in order to use federal funds for pavement, the city must complete the road diet so that the lane width meets federal standards.
The project includes 12 percent matching funds from the city.
Other Petaluma projects that received funding include $79,000 for bike and pedestrian facilities at Crystal Lane and Edith Street, $69,000 for Petaluma Transit marketing, and $400,000 for a SMART bike path between Payran Street and Southpoint Boulevard.
Bike advocates say that the Payran-Southpoint path will be a key route across Petaluma, connecting west side residences with an east side business park. The only pathway across town restricted for motorized vehicles is the Lynch Creek trail, the final portion of which was completed in December.
“I am eager to have the SMART pathway move forward in Petaluma, along with new pavement that will benefit everyone on Petaluma Boulevard South,” said Petaluma City Councilwoman Kathy Miller, an SCTA board member.