For hundreds of motorists who rely on Freeway 101 to cross the Marin-Sonoma county line — for work, play or household — the beginning of development of widening the ultimate leg of the Novato Narrows must be welcomed.
The undertaking has taken twenty years, beginning with widening the freeway to 6 lanes by way of the north finish of Novato and together with larger-scale widening initiatives by way of Petaluma. The final six miles of the 17-mile lengthy undertaking, from Novato to the county line, is starting and set to be accomplished across the summer time of 2026.
It will possibly’t come quickly sufficient for the 150,000 North Bay commuters who depend on that busy stretch of highway.
Veteran commuters can keep in mind when that stretch of 101 amounted to a four-lane freeway — hardly a freeway — with a number of precarious crossings. It was an instance of Caltrans’ lack of ability to maintain up with elevated visitors ranges and altering commute patterns.
Marin commuters received the primary break, when the primary leg of the widening was accomplished to Novato’s Atherton Avenue interchange. That undertaking moved 101’s nightly visitors chokepoint and the visitors jam north of Atherton.
However a lot of the current work has taken place in Sonoma County, the place the Petaluma River Bridge had to get replaced and the freeway raised above San Antonio Creek, which might typically flood and shut the freeway.
Throughout a ceremony marking the beginning of development on the ultimate leg, Novato Mayor Eric Lucan joked that the widening of the part ought to render the title “Novato Narrows” to the historical past books.
The widening will shut a spot within the commuter lane and enhance instances for bi-county bus service.
It’s not going to resolve all of Freeway 101’s commute-hour issues, particularly as visitors regularly approaches pre-pandemic ranges.
The work may even embrace constructing a hyperlink within the bike lane between the 2 counties and much-needed security enhancements.
Development of the ultimate leg has been held up for a number of years as a result of a big a part of its funding has been tied up in a court docket battle over the legality of 2018’s Regional Measure A, which elevated tolls on the Bay Space’s bridges to boost cash for regional transportation enhancements.
Native and state leaders’ advocacy has saved completion of this undertaking on the highest of the state’s to-do listing.
As a substitute of ready for a court docket ruling — and the promise that delay will solely increase the price of the undertaking — the Metropolitan Transportation Fee has provide you with a money advance to reap the benefits of obtainable federal funding and begin development.
It was a smart use of taxpayers’ cash.
This can be a undertaking that has wanted to get constructed for years. Miles of visitors congestion doesn’t assist the setting or the native financial system. Marin employers know that the gnarly commute is an impediment in recruiting and retaining staff.
It’s been a protracted wait, however work on widening the ultimate leg has begun. The promise that the Narrows undertaking can be totally accomplished is headed towards actuality and making a distinction.