Question: Mark West Springs Road in front of the new Sutter Hospital has been modified and improved as a result of the construction, with one odd aspect that is causing some westbound anarchy right before the new light to enter the hospital site.

As part of the improvements, the road was widened to four lanes starting at the 101 overpass, extending east to the new light at the hospital site.  But, due to what appears to be a storm drain on the north side of the road right before the new light, the west bound side of the road has a lane reduction from two into 1 1/2, then back to two lanes between Old Redwood Highway and the new light at the hospital.

I think they did not want to pay to move the storm drain and could not narrow the bike lane, so they put in a very short lane reduction.  What is happening is that some of the time people merge into one lane and then back to two lanes, but about half the time we all just split the difference and keep going as if the two lanes are painted in.  Lots of fingers flying, horns honking, and brakes being applied.

Why didn’t they make it two lanes all the way through? — Mike Holdner

Answer: Tom O’Kane, deputy director of the Sonoma County Department of Transportation and Public Works, has the answer for this one, which doesn’t have anything to do with the storm drain.

The improvements along the new hospital frontage were designed and constructed by Sutter within the existing county right-of-way. While it would have been desirable to complete the two through lanes westbound, there wasn’t enough right-of-way. An existing bike lane on the shoulder had to be preserved, and the land alongside the county’s right-of-way is privately owned.

“It is my understanding that a proposed development for this section where the road necks down was put on hold when the economy was in recession in 2008, but when this project or any project that fronts this area moves forward for approval, public improvements will be required, including the addition of a standard through lane,” O’Kane said.