Here’s a question from a Road Warrior reader:

For the last 3 weeks I’ve watched the police presence at the roundabout near 101 on Petaluma Blvd S change from enforcement to encroachment.  There’s been an officer stationed at the roundabout 4 of 5 mornings every single week, often with TWO officers in the region.  I feel like the city is trying to harvest ticket revenue from the area. I’ve been commuting this area for months and don’t understand the issue.  If the roundabout is such a safety issue, why was it built in the first place? Stephen

The answer comes from Petaluma Police Sgt. Ken Savano, who says the speed limit on Petaluma Boulevard South north of the roundabout recently was dropped from 45 mph to 35 mph after a traffic survey, and the officers are enforcing the limit as they would anywhere else in the city. He says there’s no special enforcement action — officers “are hitting it as time allows” — but the officers have been “writing a few tickets.”

Savano says the speed was dropped to 35 because it’s too dangerous for drivers to approach the roundabout at 45. He says there haven’t been any recent crashes there solely related to speed, but there have been some blamed on drunken driving and other factors.

As for why Petaluma has the roundabout and several others, CLICK HERE to read a story about them from the Petaluma Argus-Courier.

Here’s another question:

This situation occurs on Stony Point Rd between the Hwy 12 Westbound offramp and West Third St.  When I drive northbound on Stony Point and pull into the small left-turn lane which leads into the Oliver’s shopping center, I often have to wait quite awhile for southbound traffic to let up before I can make my turn.  Occasionally, a southbound car will stop traffic behind them and attempt to pull a U-turn through the small cutout in the road’s divider, backing up traffic behind them while they wait for northbound traffic to dissipate.  This always causes congestion and i see lots of near misses in this situation. Is it legal for them to attempt this U-turn? Joel

The answer comes from Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Rich Celli, who says, yes, it is illegal.

“This would be considered a business district as a portion of that area is related to the shopping center,” Celli says. ” The big issue is that vehicles that are waiting for the U-turn from southbound to northbound, are competing with the left hand turn lane traffic as well as the northbound lanes.  This would make it hard to see as well as dangerous for drivers in all directions.”


If you have a question for the Road Warrior, please email it to jim.fremgen@pressdemocrat.com


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  1. J.D.

    I would tend to discount Savano’s explanation. His dept. is highly motivated by monetary considerations. A prime example is that agency’s addiction to DUI checkpoint grant money.

    November 17th, 2012 9:39 am

  2. The Big Dog

    Ask Sgt. Savano how Petaluma PD is at least partially underwriting costs of vehicles and equipment on fine revenue and forfeitures. Speed limits on a number of streets are artificially low and creating what we used to call “cherry patches” when I was in the business where ticket writing becomes like shooting fish in a barrel.

    Lakeville near the now closed railroad crossing is a prime example.

    November 17th, 2012 10:14 am

  3. DDS

    As a resident of a home abutting Petaluma Boulevard South near the roundabout, I am quite pleased to see Petaluma PD regularly enforcing the speed limit in this area. Folks entering and leaving Petaluma via PBS treat it like a race track. Its time a little respect was given to nearby residents. As such, I take pleasure in hearing the rumble of the Petaluma PD’s motor units early weekday mornings.

    I am happy to hear the road diet program may be extended between D Street and McNear Avenue. I’d actually like to see the road diet extended to the roundabout. There is no reason why PBS needs to be a sea of asphalt that encourages speeding.

    For those complaining about the roundabout, if you can’t figure out how to safely navigate this type of intersection I question whether you should be operating a vehicle. Its really not that hard.

    November 17th, 2012 12:47 pm

  4. stephen

    Thank you for getting my question answered.

    It’s a shame they claim that 45mph is too fast for a roundabout entry, as many 45 mph streets have stop signs. In terms of entry speed, it seems like 45-0mph would be tougher than 45-15mph.


    November 26th, 2012 9:09 am

  5. joel

    So glad that you posted my question and that I was correct in thinking that this was probably illegal. It is sooo dangerous! Hopefully this will discourage just a couple of people pulling that illegal u-turn on Stony Point because I’m surprised that i haven’t yet seen an accident. Plus, as the legal left-turner in that situation, I always have to wait for the other car to make their maneuver because I do not trust that the cars behind them won’t abruptly pull into the other lane and speed off if I attempted to make my turn while they had traffic stopped behind them.

    November 27th, 2012 1:34 pm

  6. Evelyn

    Personally I think it was poorly designed and it is in the WRONG place. It’s like threading a needle. Ever since that abomination was installed, my commute time has increased. You have all these people commuting going from two lanes to one, then back to two, then to one again creating a MAJOR bottleneck. I even had a guy at the traffic division admit that it was poorly designed at the wrong angles. They said the same thing to me about the roundabouts on McDowell and Ely. Maybe they need to hire a new engineer because they are nothing like most roundabouts in Europe, that flow efficiently and seamlessly.

    November 28th, 2012 8:38 am

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