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The Pumpkin Patch Crawl is gone, and we have Caltrans to thank for the treat.

It’s been a Halloween tradition in Sonoma County for nearly 20 years. A pumpkin patch and corn maze would come into their glory every fall along Highway 101 in north Petaluma, attracting thousands of people throughout October. But the pumpkin patch also every year would cause backups on southbound 101 as drivers gawked at all of the fun.

Not this year, and hopefully perhaps never again.

Caltrans this year finished widening 101 along the patch as part of its continuing project to expand the highway, and traffic has been flowing smoothly past the pumpkins.

“I think that third lane has taken care of the problem,” said CHP Officer Jon Sloat, spokesman for the Sonoma County office.

Farmer Jim Groverman of Petaluma, who creates the patch each year, actually predicted last year that the wider highway would improve traffic. He was right.

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Comments

14 Comments

  1. Tyler

    It wasn’t that the Pumpkin Patch was ruining the traffic flow, it was the 2 lanes, with a terrible on/off ramp heading both Southbound and Northbound. When the Patch wasn’t there for 10+ months of the year, traffic was pretty much the same.

    Who’s for getting an abolishment to the Diamond lane in Sonoma County. They built it with our money, but you can only use it with 2 people in the car in commute hours. #travesty

    October 23rd, 2012 1:35 pm

  2. swiller

    Not sure about that. I still experience slowdown there. It has improved. A great solution is to shut them down for good. Stop the traffic. Go to Adobe Farms instead people!

    October 23rd, 2012 1:46 pm

  3. Sandy

    “Who’s for getting an abolishment to the Diamond lane in Sonoma County. They built it with our money, but you can only use it with 2 people in the car in commute hours. ”

    I AM WITH YOU! This has been my biggest beef since the beginning of the reconstruction. My tax money is used, yet I am unable to use the commute lane.

    October 23rd, 2012 3:51 pm

  4. The Big Dog

    There was already a story published in the PeeDee some months back that the carpool lanes are being utilized far below projections. Yet neither Caltrans nor the Sonoma county Transportation Agency seems to be willing to get rid of them. Not yet, anyway.

    Just wait until the project is done and the metering lights all go into service. Then we’ll watch the traffic back up onto city streets every morning and afternoon. Eventually some commuters may get so mad that they take the SMART train.

    The folly that was the decades long delay of increasing the capacity of the freeway infrastructure to accommodate the population growth in SoCo is compounded daily by trying to cram three lanes worth of traffic into two lanes plus an underutilized HOV lane during peak usage periods.

    October 23rd, 2012 4:09 pm

  5. Tyler

    Sigh of relief that I’m not alone. Thanks Sandy, I seriously have HUGE issues with this.

    This is the tip of the iceberg with the way California and the US of A is run in regards to major issues I’ve got, but this one affects me twice, 5 days a week, so it’s a start.

    October 23rd, 2012 4:10 pm

  6. Billy

    I must concur with the article’s author. I was leaving Cotati mid-afternoon this past Sunday, got on 101 South, and immediately said to myself, “Oh crap, what have I done?” (I usually opt for Stony Point or Petaluma Hill Rd. to avoid the pumpkin patch backup) Well, imagine my surprise at cruising by the patch doing 70 the whole way (yeah, I know I was speeding – so was everyone else. Sue me.) in the far right lane, no less. I was skeptical that the third lane would make a difference, but I have clearly been proven wrong.

    October 23rd, 2012 4:13 pm

  7. John Emery

    The traffic was bad most of the year through this area. Did not matter which month of the year it was. There was so much traffic because of the wine country and other attractions that brought people through our city.

    Carpool lanes are not fair because everyone had to put up with construction for at least 12 years. Not all people can load up a passenger for every trip.

    October 23rd, 2012 4:21 pm

  8. JB

    Perfect, now when will they bring the speed limit back up to 65MPH? It is truly ridiculous having a 3 lane highway with a 55MPH speed limit. Geez, it was 65MPH when it was two lanes!

    October 23rd, 2012 5:24 pm

  9. Todd

    I’m with the others here. Dump the carpool lanes. Traffic moves fine until the carpool lane hours go into effect. Since discussion of carpool lanes seem to the subject here. Ponder this, why do people with babies or children qualify as a carpool? Children can’t drive, so where’s the benefit?

    October 23rd, 2012 5:47 pm

  10. Bill

    It was never the Pumpkin Patch. It has always been the irresponsible drivers gawking at corn and pumpkins rather than paying attention to their driving. Always a-mazing how a driver would crawl for 30+ minutes while others gazed, AND THEN . . . when that driver got to the patch, would do the same d*mn thing that made him crazy. Drive attentively or get the h*ll off the road!!!

    October 23rd, 2012 5:52 pm

  11. Cheryl

    Carpool lanes make no sense to me. Where is the savings in gas usage and pollution when cars sit in traffic idling? Who, honestly, carpools simply in order to use the carpool lane? Enough people to compensate for the backups? Open all the lanes to everyone and keep the traffic flowing.

    October 23rd, 2012 11:48 pm

  12. Dar

    I understand the frustration with the carpool lanes, but traffic flow in all lanes has improved significantly since they were added. The problem with opening the carpool lane back up to all traffic 24/7 is that American drivers do not have the driving discipline to “keep right except to pass”. I would be much more agreeable to this if the driving instruction/testing/training would improve. As it stands, Americans require no driver training other than sitting in a car with an “instructor” for a certain number of hours. This is not driver training, it is a multiple choice open-book exam.

    October 24th, 2012 12:52 pm

  13. Art

    Billy, If I would have been on patrol that day, I wouldve stopped you and given you a ticket

    October 24th, 2012 2:21 pm

  14. Skeeter

    There is basically no enforcement of the 55 MPH speed posted over the Cotati grade.

    October 29th, 2012 8:13 am

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