City council on Monday voted to move ahead with a project that would reduce Petaluma Boulevard from four lanes to two lanes, but could not agree on whether to allow cars to travel on Water Street between East Washington and Western Avenue.
Work for the so-called “road diet” is expected to start next month, from E Street to East Washington Street, and is aimed at improving the flow of traffic through downtown.
The road works project will be paid for regional grants and state transportation bonds and not utilize any general fund revenue. Still council members Mike Healy, Mike Harris and Chris Albertson voted against the project, each for a different reason.
Healy said he opposed spending limited street funds on a project that was not a true capital improvement project and Harris agreed.
“For me, it’s about the prioritizing of the Prop 1B monies (Caltrans transportation bonds),” Harris said. “These improvements would be nice, but not when we can use the money on more pressing basic items like potholes.”
Councilman Albertson said he only supported the project if it also converted Water Street into one-way street that would allow drivers enter from East Washington and drive along the riverfront and exit at Western Extension, a redesign that would add 21 addition parking spaces.
This is an option favored by many businesses, but critics worry that allowing cars access to a bigger portion of Water Street eliminates its potential as a riverfront walkway dotted with cafes and restaurants.
“There’s a lot of people that like to be able to enjoy patio dining at Cucina Paradiso and I don’t know how many would enjoy patio dining in a parking lot,” Glass said.
Ultimately, the council agreed to seek more community input about the future of Water Street at the next Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting on July 11.
What do you think? Should the city allow cars to travel on Water Street all the way to Western Avenue and the boulevard? Or would it ruin the character of downtown?