On Tuesday, we ran a LIST of Sonoma and Napa County road projects that have been included in the new Plan Bay Area, and the questions rolled in. What does it mean to be on the list? Are theses projects done deals? What kind of work will be done?

The plan, prepared by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments,  is a comprehensive guide to growth and transportation planning through 2040, covering all nine of the Bay Area counties.

Janet Spellman of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority reminds us that it is a long-term planning document, not a funding mechanism, so being included doesn’t guarantee the work will get done anytime soon. The exercise is just a way to prioritize projects that link transportation with land use goals in an effort to reduce greenhouse cases.

“We’re obligated to update it every four years,” Spellman said. “Projects can fall out of the plan if they’re not fully funded or if priorities change. Every four years we submit a list of projects, but how do you know what you’ll need in 25 years?”

Tom O’Kane, deputy director of Sonoma County’s Transportation and Public Works Department, urged residents not to expect anything big until the Highway 101 corridor is finished in five years. Even then, he warns, rural communities will come out behind. By definition, Plan Bay Area focuses on large population centers rather than rural communities, even though “people travel in rural areas, too,” he said.

Most transportation money goes through Caltrans, SCTA, MTC and ABAG before it even reaches Sonoma County, he added, “and by the time it’s funneled down to us, the amount of money we get is tiny.”

In the immediate future, Sonoma County’s biggest project will focus on the Old Redwood Highway between Petaluma and Penngrove, the roadway most in need of repair, he said. Starting in late August or early September, crews will start paving there and along some portions of Petaluma Hill Road.

For more details about all of the county’s 2013 construction plans, take a look at THIS MAP.