Ahh, finally.

Caltrans on Wednesday morning opened the third northbound lane of Highway 101 through Rohnert Park and plans to open the third southbound lane on Thursday morning.

Work to widen the highway in Rohnert Park began three years ago. Some finishing touches remain in both directions, including paving and striping.

The third lanes will be carpool only during commute hours, ending the bottleneck carpoolers encountered in Rohnert Park where there were only two lanes and no carpool lane. Now, carpool lanes will extend from downtown Windsor to north Petaluma.

Drivers have dealt with the construction and delays for years in Sonoma County as crews worked to widen the highway. The first widening segment in downtown Santa Rosa started construction in early 2005 and the Rohnert Park stretch began in 2009. Adding a third lane from Petaluma to Novato, where 101 widens, is years away.

As for the speed limit, Caltrans spokesman Adam Priest says it’ll remain at 55 mph because of the continuing work.

However, as anyone who drives that stretch, it’s the rare driver that goes 55. Many drivers treat the new road as a speedway.

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