Dangerous Lakeville Highway getting safety improvements

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A portion of Lakeville Highway is getting intersection enhancements with the hope it might improve safety in an area that’s been notorious for dangerous car crashes.

The Petaluma City Council on Monday unanimously approved a $185,400 contract authorizing American Asphalt Repair and Resurfacing Company to perform a series of upgrades where Highway 116 meets Pine View Way, the primary entrance to Kaiser Permanente Petaluma and several office buildings.

That segment is one of the last urban areas along the highway within Petaluma city limits, and drivers often increase speeds or attempt to make last-second passes before Lakeville slims down to a two-lane thoroughfare.

Between 2002 and 2012, 23 accidents occurred within a 250-foot radius of the intersection, and 65 percent of those were broadside-related, according to city officials.

“You could tell this project was needed,” said Jeff Stutsman, the city’s senior civil engineer.

The project involves a westbound acceleration lane for Lakeville Highway, offering a smoother transition for drivers as they enter onto the road. In addition to new signage and installation of radar speed feedback signs, new striping and markings will help form a dedicated right turn lane from Lakeville onto Pine View.

Construction will likely begin in October, Stutsman said, and is expected to take about a month to complete. The city will first need to get approval from Caltrans, which owns and maintains Highway 116.

The contract was given to the Hayward-based company after city officials rejected a series of bids in May that were over $226,000 — well above the budgeted amount for the project. The city fielded another round of bids in June.

According to a staff report, the city is funding the project with grant money awarded in December 2012 for highway safety improvements. The site was a low priority for Caltrans due to its project load and lack of funding, so the city took the lead on the enhancements, the report said.

The city is responsible for a 10 percent match of the grant funds being used, in addition to overhead costs, totaling $97,141. Since the entire cost of the project is more expensive than the 2018-19 budget initially accounted for, an augmentation of $24,141 from the street maintenance fund is required to bridge the gap.

The overall cost of the project is $239,141.

To reduce the impact of the higher price tag, the city plans on requesting additional grant funding from Caltrans, but may have to wait for the next fiscal year for those funds to come through. The request could also be denied, which would make the transfer from the street fund permanent.

(Contact News Editor Yousef Baig at yousef.baig@arguscourier.com or 776-8461, and on Twitter @YousefBaig.)

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