The city’s department of Public Works wants to turn Petaluma Boulevard South from four to two lanes, extending the so-called “road diet” from downtown to McNear Avenue, near the city’s southern edge.
Traffic lanes have already been reduced from four to two on Petaluma Boulevard North (north of Washington Street) and this spring the same will happen downtown.
And if the city’s grant is approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, it will transform nearly the entire stretch of the boulevard to just one lane in each direction.
“This is designed to maintain the flow of traffic while improving other aspects of traffic, primarily safety,” said Larry Zimmer, a traffic engineer for the city.
“The boulevard has undersized lanes and undersize parking and a higher accident rate than we should have for the amount of traffic that passes there…There are side swipes and pedestrian accidents; all of these things we can fix with these changes.”
In addition to widening lanes and repaving, changes include adding “sharrows”, signage allocating space for cyclists. (Bicycle lanes will not be put in.)
On Monday, the City Council will vote on whether to allow the department to proceed with an application to the One Bay Area Grant program, a sweeping $320 million regional plan aimed at improving linkages between mass transit and housing.
Road improvements are an integral component of the plan and Sonoma County stands to receive $23 million, with about $2 million to $3 million going to Petaluma.
But in order to qualify, improvements must be made in “priority development areas,” meaning they are close to mass transit. In Petaluma, four streets have been identified as fitting the requirement, including Lakeville, D Street, East Washington Street and Petaluma Boulevard.
What do you think of the proposal to turn the southern portion of the boulevard into one lane in each direction? Is it a good idea?