Here’s a question from a reader:

I drive daily from Graton to St. Helena via Mark West Springs Road/Porter Creek Road and am writing in hopes you will bring additional attention to a serious road hazard on Porter Creek Road.  I contacted County Roads of Sonoma County and reported this to them.

Just west of Camp Newman, heading west toward Santa Rosa where the curve is in the road at the camp and just past the top of the rise, there is a horseshoe-shaped dip that takes up the whole lane and has been progressively getting worse.  Well, this week, it’s really gotten bad, to the point of serious danger.  Someone is going to hit that dip one of these days and blow a tire, or overreact, and end up down the side in the creek or into oncoming track.  I can’t believe with the amount of traffic that passes on this road daily, that this is not a bigger concern to Sonoma County Roads or better yet, CHP.  If it’s getting this bad now while its dry, what is going to happen to the road once it starts raining?  It’s turning into a SINK HOLE!  You can see it has been “filled in” as a fix, but more serious work must be completed to make this a safe road for the thousands of commuters that use this passage daily (trust me – there is a lot of us).


The answer comes from Rob Silva, road department operations manager of the Sonoma County Department of Transportation and Public Works, who says a staffer checked the problem this week and a culvert failure may be causing the sinking. He said a crew sealed the cracks and the department next week will evaluate what needs to be done.

Another question: I am a big fan of the single lanes that we now have on Sonoma Avenue west of Montgomery Village in Santa Rosa. However, I find that at the intersections where it turns to double lanes, many cars are using the right lane that briefly opens up to race ahead of the line of cars in the left lane. So although the single lanes in between intersections now feel safer, the intersections feel much more dangerous. I hold my breath each time I’m at a red light knowing that eventually a car will try to race ahead of the others and end up hitting a pedestrian, car, or bicyclist. Is there any way to request that these right-hand lanes be turned into turn-only lanes that cannot be used to proceed straight through the intersection? Jennifer of Santa Rosa

The answer comes from Robert Sprinkle, Santa Rosa’s traffic engineer, who says a study done before Sonoma Avenue was turned into mostly single lanes found that to keep traffic flowing smoothly through the intersections, the short extra lanes were needed. So, no plans to turn them into right-turn only.

Hanging next to the stoplight is a sign indicating five lanes of traffic on eastbound Steele Lane/Guerneville Road at Cleveland Avenue intersection. Road Warrior photo

Another question: Road signage, I thought, was suppose to prepare drivers for upcoming road changes and hazards and the like.  With this in mind they should be accurate.  You’d think so.  But at least  one Santa Rosa intersection which has received tremendous attention and the  blue ribbon for “The Most Dangerous Intersection” over and over now should receive the blue ribbon for “Dangerous, Misleading, Most Confusing & Just Plain Stupid Signage” in this town.  That’s eastbound Steele Lane at Cleveland Avenue.

There exists an enormous, highly visible overhead sign showing the 5 upcoming lanes of traffic with each lane containing a large black arrow showing the allowed travel from that lane.  So, the alert driver is able to prepare for this intersection by moving into the correct lane for their direction of travel.  The problem is that this sign has absolutely no semblance of agreement with that which is painted on the roadway and ultimately used by the traffic. So when  one proceeds through this intersection they can end  up seeing a portion of the city that they had no intention of visiting, or, they can slow and stop and attempt to move over a lane which  stops all traffic flow.  Or quite  often the third choice is made which upon finding oneself trapped in this dangerous dilemma is to proceed wherever you want to from any lane with total disregard of any arrow.  This results in a hazardous situation and a lot of honking and saluting. What’s the solution?   Bruce

The answer also comes from Sprinkle, who says the sign actually refers to the five lanes of traffic on eastbound Guerneville Road BEFORE Cleveland Avenue at Coddingtown, not the three lanes east of the intersection, where Steele Lane begins. He says if a lane sign refers to upcoming lanes, it’ll be marked “Ahead.”


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