This week readers sent some kudos to the traffic folks, along with a few questions from the road.

Mike wrote with a compliment for the county: “The traffic signal timing at Airport and Fulton seems to be working fairly well.  Usually this column is about problems, but this success could be acknowledged.”

Ann Sutherland sent another one for Sonoma County crews: “Big hugs for the repaving of the nightmare track over Calistoga Road to the junction of Mark West Springs Road.  I thank you and my car thanks you – whoever is responsible.”

Mitch wrote with this progress report on the upcoming Stony Point Road widening project: “Just to let you know the last house and shopping mart are being demolished on Stony Point just South of Sebastopol. Let the road work begin!”

Lori Urbanek, an engineer with Santa Rosa’s Department of Transportation and Public Works, confirmed that crews will soon start digging up the road, but don’t break out the party hats just yet. They will be utility crews working on gas mains and power lines. City crews won’t start the actual widening until next summer.

“This work will take place on Stony Point Road between Sebastopol Road and 1,000 feet south of Hearn Ave.,” Urbanek said. “We anticipate their construction work will begin soon and be complete next summer. The City’s road construction is estimated to start the summer of 2014 following PGE’s work.”

P&GE is working on the plans to abandon and/or remove  the gas main, Urbanek said. Utility crews also will bury the overhead low voltage electrical, telephone and cable lines, and relocate the high voltage electrical transmission lines and poles.

And Jeff Jones wrote a few weeks ago to complain that the fog lanes, merge lanes and even a crosswalk were still missing on the eastbound on-ramp from Stony Point Road to Highway 12. Now he’s back with an update. After the Road Warrior forwarded his question to Caltrans, he got a call from a supervisor who answered his questions:

Jones said the on-ramp had been repaved months earlier, and “I thought maybe they were going to come back at some point  and finish, but now months have gone by and it looks like the construction is finished (or incomplete if you ask me).”

The same crew paved the on-ramp from eastbound Highway 12 to southbound Highway 101, and didn’t grind down the road, just paving over the existing pavement, he said. “The problem is that now there is a large bump/hump that you hit as you are coming off the turn and attempting to accelerate onto 101. Not only is it going to damage cars’ suspension and tires, but I’m more concerned with it in the wet season when cars hit the bump their tires will lose traction on a turn and possibly crash due to the wet roads. I have been trying to get ahold of the right person but with no luck, so I was hoping you could help.

“Steve Fernandez (I believe he said he was supervisor of striping work for the area) said they have plans to do the striping work Sept. 19, that one of two striping machines is not working and the other one is doing a large project and held up in Gilroy. That was the reason for it taking so long.

“I’m still not sure if they were going to do it without a complaint, but he made it seem like it was already on the schedule, even though the paving work was done months ago.  As far as the bad pave job on the Hwy. 12 to 101 on-ramp, he made it seem like they were going to come look at it and, if needed, grind down the pavement and redo.”

Smog checkpoint: Info or enforcement?

Question: Yesterday there was a checkpoint of some sort on eastbound West Ave near Northpoint Parkway. My coworkers said it was a smog checkpoint. CHP was there, and I did see a vehicle lift as well. Is this a new type of enforcement? Most folks don’t think about smogging their vehicles until it’s registration time, maybe this is to help people get a jump on it? — Mary

Answer: This is actually being run by the Bureau of Automotive Repair. They are random checkpoints and it is voluntary to have your car checked. They have the authority to set up the checkpoints through the Health and Safety Code. CHP is there strictly for traffic control. — Officer Jon Sloat, CHP spokesman

Turn arrow malfunctions

Question: Three times in the last 2 days I have seen someone jump the left turn arrow at an intersection.  I understood it because the arrow had stayed red through 2 cycles, and we weren’t sure if it was going to change.  The rest of us just got into the through lane and worked around it.  Why is this happening lately? I experienced it at Marlow and Guerneville Road westbound, 3rd and Stony Point westbound and  Marlow and College eastbound. —  JeriLu

Answer: The past few days we have been doing some work intermittently on the server for the signal system.  This may have caused the signal to go into a transition during that time period. We try to do this maintenance work on the server during low traffic periods, but sometimes it is unavoidable.

Another possibility is that a fire truck may have just passed through the signal on the way to an emergency.  Whenever a fire truck goes through with its lights on, the signal will turn green for the truck.  Once the truck passes, the signal attempts to get back in step with the rest of the coordinated system. — Rob Sprinkle, Santa Rosa traffic engineer


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