Our previous Mailbag column generated comments and questions from readers:

From Tim: I have been doing a lot of driving in the Coddingtown area as of late and noticed an area of concern: Can you have someone look into the intersection of Cleveland Ave. & Guerneville Road? Specifically, going eastbound on Guerneville and turning north onto Cleveland the light stays green for LESS than 10 seconds. The dangerous part is most drivers are not aware of this, and I witnessed at least 8 cars go right through a red light. My concern is not only a vehicle accident but the pedestrians who try to cross there are very likely to be hit.

From Daily Commuter: You think that’s bad you should see the light on Hearn and Stony Point. I see 3 people a day running that red light because the light only stays on long enough for two cars to go through, unless there is someone going straight on the other side of Hearn and then one car gets through. I have noticed several people complain about this light as well and yet there is still no change. Heck, I even saw a guy get out of his car and press the pedestrian crosswalk button so the 20 cars behind him could get through the light before it turned red. Something needs to be done.

From Will: When you are going home from work or anytime and are at the corner of Cleveland Avenue and College Avenue attempting to turn left to get onto Hwy 101 the left turn signal only lets 2 to 3cars get through. This light has been this way for at least 5 years. Most times it’s faster for me to drive through the neighborhoods to get over to Stony Point and Hearn than it is to get on Hwy 101!!! Surely this is one of the worst timed lights in Santa Rosa.

The answers come from Rob Sprinkle, Santa Rosa’s traffic engineer, who promised to look into the intersections mentioned. Specifically, he says Cleveland at Guerneville is particularly congested this time of year with shoppers heading to and from Coddingtown stores. He says he recently drove through there at about 5 p.m. and it took him three cycles of the traffic lights to get through because of the holiday traffic.

As for College and Cleveland, Sprinkle says this is another intersection that takes a hit during the Christmas season. Part of the issue at the intersection is that the traffic signals are programmed to work together with the traffic light a block east at Highway 101, so that the ramps get long enough green lights to clear traffic, he says. Otherwise, he says, eastbound traffic on College will have no place to go.

Sprinkle says trying to improve traffic flow is more than just having longer green lights at a particular intersection — “It’s definitely more complicated than that.”

Here’s another question:

What’s going on at Petaluma Blvd North and Stony Point, near Denny’s. The other afternoon I was caught in a big backup on northbound Petaluma Blvd. D

The answer comes from  Erica Ahmann Smithies, senior civil engineer for Petaluma, who says PG&E is burying power lines at that intersection and its work is expected to continue into March, weather permitting. The work has at times blocked the eastbound turn lane on Industrial Avenue at that intersection. She says a southbound lane on Petaluma Boulevard may be closed at times, but she doesn’t expect northbound to be affected much. As for the backup that the reader encountered, she says construction crews this week accidentally cut traffic sensors imbedded in the road, throwing the traffic signals’ timing off, and that may have caused the backup. She says city crews are trying to fix the problem.


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


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  1. Jack

    Cleveland and College turn lane issue is NOT a seasonal shopping problem, it’s a year-round commute time problem. Drivers routinely run that red when turning onto College from southbound Cleve and I’m disturbed by our city traffic dept being so unaware of the issue it could be described as seasonal.

    A smaller intersection with the same problem is turning south on Marlow from w. Steele. A 2 car green, max 3 if everybody’s paying attention, unless both turn lanes have cars which seems to lengthen the time a little. Bad behavior is encouraged by these turn light durations.

    December 21st, 2012 8:10 pm

  2. Jessica

    What about the intersection at Piner and Fulton? I’ve sat there for SIX minutes more than once, not due to congested traffic but because the light stays red turning onto Piner road (left) from Fulton.

    December 22nd, 2012 11:19 am

  3. John

    The intersection of Fulton Rd. and Appletree Ln. is also bad when turning onto Fulton Rd. in either direction. At certain times of day you will sit there for at least five minutes even if there is no traffic on Fulton. Any one who drives these roads in Santa Rosa knows that it has nothing to do with seasonal traffic because its like this year round. We really need some one programming these intersections who pays attention to the flow of traffic in these areas. True, some timing issues are there because of syncing up with other intersections, but not all of them mentioned.

    December 22nd, 2012 1:31 pm

  4. rasputin

    notice how no one answered the roseland question. I too have noticed this problem for many years now and no one is interested in fixing the problem or even addressing its existence. The problem is if you are traveling on Hearn West bound and come to the inersection of Stony Point. If you are trying to turn or even go straight only 2 to 3 cars are given the chance to make the light.

    One other problem I have is I went across the Golden Gate, I think its called that due to it being a golden cow aka golden goose, for the city, I had a car w/trailer. In the past the fee/tax was $3 per axil or $6 per car. A one axil trailer added an additional $3 or $9 total to the Fee/tax. Now somehow the corrupt ageny created some kind of multipler and now it is X2 or $18 to cross the breidge. How and when did a multiplier get involved in extorting money from citzens. If the city wants to continue making money off the bridge that WE paid for they should have to pay the tax payers back all the money that it took to build the bridge. Let SF who makes the money foot the bill to build it.

    December 22nd, 2012 1:45 pm

  5. Tim

    Like I always say:”If you’re in that big of a hurry,ya shoulda left sooner.” (especially around Santa Rosa!)

    December 22nd, 2012 1:56 pm

  6. Charlotte

    I agree with Jack. The issue with the intersection at College and Cleveland is not seasonal. The answer given by Rob Sprinkle is total –. IF it was about not letting traffic build up near the 101 onramp, then the light for traffic heading East on College through the intersection would also only allow 2 cars at a time. The city really needs to look into fixing the problem for those turning left onto eastbound college from Cleveland.

    December 22nd, 2012 4:14 pm

  7. frankie

    experienced the N. Petaluma Blvd/Stony Point Traffic signal comedy over the last few weeks. The left turn onto Stony Pt. from N. Petaluma Blvd stays green for only an absurdly short time and this isn’t because of holiday shopping ;). glad to know it’s on the scope for the Petaluma traffic engineers. It’s another area that is an accident waiting to happen as folks are going through the yellow-red out of frustration after sitting in the lengthening left lane…

    December 22nd, 2012 7:35 pm

  8. Rex Faktor

    Maybe we could trade those poorly set-up lights with the Northbound left turn light on Santa Rosa Avenue at the Santa Rosa Marketplace intersection. It’s bad enough that the “detector” is intermittently failing, especially after rains…so it signals a NB left turn for no cars. But the frustrating part is that the duration must be set at the max…20 cars could make it through, though the volume for NB vs SB left turns is no comparison…thousands turn into Costco, very few the other way. Been that way for years…isn’t this easy to fix, Sprinkle?

    December 22nd, 2012 8:42 pm

  9. Skeeter

    Santa Rosa…The city designed for living, yet not driving and or commuting.

    December 23rd, 2012 4:55 pm

  10. john ghiringhelli

    What’s the deal with all the redwoods being cut down on 101 from Penngrove to the south side of the Petaluma river bridge. There’s also a ton of construction debris @ the former old house across from Kastania Rd. Where’d that come from? Any ideas? Thanx!

    February 8th, 2013 5:25 am

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