Here’s a reader’s comment about Highway 37 traffic with an idea on why it’s become so bad:

Your article on the unusual traffic backups on Hwy 37 struck a real cord with me, particularly the comment from a reader who said they only really started happening some four or five months ago.  It’s strange Caltrans couldn’t come up with any better reason for the traffic than to say it was peak tourism season and there were two missing “left lane must turn left” signs at Hwy 121.  Do they not see the correlation between the much heavier than normal traffic flows on 37 and the start of their program to announce travel times to Petaluma and Cotati from Novato on the electronic sign board located just north of the Alameda Del Prado exit from northbound Hwy 101?  The backups on Hwy 37 started almost immediately after Caltrans started displaying those times.

If the time to Cotati exceeds 35 minutes (and it often does), as displayed on that sign board, Hwy 37 becomes a parking lot, often as early as the Black Point exit, as commuters frustrated with Hwy 101 try to use Hwy 37 to get to Hwy 116 or Hwy 121, using them as alternate routes into Sonoma County.  It used to be a guessing game to decide which route into Sonoma County was fastest, and most drivers guessed Hwy 101.  Now, Caltrans takes all the guess work out of it and people who would have otherwise stayed on 101 know with certainty to get off 101 and try 37 instead.  It’s the classic cause and effect.

I’m surprised Caltrans could not see this for themselves.


To read the earlier column, CLICK HERE.


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  1. Keith

    I’m not sure I see a correlation here on Mike’s reply. The sign announcing times to Petaluma and Cotati has been up and running for years, not just the few months that the back ups have been occurring. AND, having traveled Hwy 37 to the Vallejo area to get to I-80 and coming in to the “mess” at Lakeville Hwy and continuing in the mess until Vallejo I doubt that the problem occurs due to people wanting a different way to Petaluma and Cotati…

    October 6th, 2012 12:05 pm

  2. betty DeConter

    when crossing at a crosswalk that has the flashing lights, why can’t the pedestarian see the light flashing in the street so they know for sure it’s safe to cross? Even if a car is stopped one way doesn’t mean they will stop going the other way.


    October 6th, 2012 2:27 pm

  3. Bert

    Not only that but when the Hwy 37 route doesn’t work out, they cut back on Atherton Avenue to Hwy 101, thereby clogging the new 4-to-3-to-3 lane merge at 101 & Atherton.
    The obvious solution is to activate the metering lights at Atherton and finish the Novato narrows widening!

    October 6th, 2012 2:44 pm

  4. Bill


    I’m sure you meant to say that the article struck a “chord” with you, not a cord. Darn spellcheckers.

    October 6th, 2012 2:47 pm

  5. Danny

    As a person who was a ‘traffic expert” before I retired…there are a few problems that are causing the back up on 37 and 101 going north in the afternoons.
    #1. People driving and going far below the speed limit when there is nobody in front of them or any other reason to drive so slow. If you can’t do the speed limit, stay off the freeway.
    #2. Cal-trans added more to the N/B HOV lane- but it abruptly ends in north Novato right about where cars are also merging onto the freeway from the Atherton on ramp. So there are many lanes funneling into 2 lanes just a short ways north…this is causing a huge back up is actually making traffic WORSE!
    #3. The only way to ease this congestion, that is also adding to the E/B 37 problem is to add more lanes north of Novato! Tell the tree huggers etc to get a life and expand the dang freeway! This area hasn’t been upgraded since the 1950’s. It’s like driving in a third world country.

    October 6th, 2012 5:52 pm

  6. Jeff

    The guess work is still there. You have to guess if the signs are accurate because KTVU recently did a story about the signs and the ground sensors that predict those times because most of the ground sensors have failed or are faulty and Caltran’s has not spent the money to fix them nor have they informed the public that the sensors aren’t doing what our $$ have paid for.

    October 6th, 2012 6:28 pm

  7. Bill

    On the down hill stretch on Fountain Grove Pky. East bound from the Chanate merge to Brush Creek Road the speed limit is 35 mph. There is one of those radar boxes that shows a vehicles current speed. Regularly I observe vehicles going 50 to 55 mph or more. At the same time I have NEVER seen the SRPD doing enforcement in this area. WHY?

    October 6th, 2012 7:13 pm

  8. Steve Klausner

    Danny, it is penny pinching, not the tree hugging that slows Hwy 101expansion.

    October 7th, 2012 8:57 am

  9. jeff

    its those darn tents for rent that have been put out by someone on there property just as you get close to 121… it looks like there is an event going on due to how close they are to the road and everybody rubbernecks to see what is going on… im tempted to call the number on them and voice my opinion…it started backing up worse then usual immediatly after they were put up

    October 7th, 2012 10:41 am

  10. Ren

    The only way to know when a crosswalk is safe to cross is when you make eye contact with the driver and come to an agreement that the driver will not run you down. The lights do not make it safe, just more obvious to the drivers who are paying attention.

    Our roads from the 1950s are still better than third world countries. And they will remain better until they return to dirt paths with donkeys and women doing the hauling rather than your SUV.

    October 11th, 2012 2:05 pm

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