Question: Now that the Arnold Drive roundabout has opened, traffic is worse than ever. I spent 20 minutes lined up to drive through it, and once you’re in the roundabout you can’t see traffic on the other side because of the ridiculous boulder in the middle. — Dianne

Answer: Last week’s traffic jam was caused by utility companies like AT&T, water, sewer and gas companies that were doing their final work at the intersection. Tom O’Kane, deputy director of Sonoma County’s department of transportation and public works, said their work is restricted to 9 a.m.-3 p.m. so they don’t snarl rush hour traffic. Last week one crew ignored the restriction and continue working until after 5.

O’Kane says he’s sorry the project is taking so long to finish, calling it “one of the most complicated in my life” for a number of reasons.

In September, Press Democrat reporter Derek Moore outlined the controversy that has trailed the $2.08 million project, which is funded partly from Measure M sales tax revenue. In 2011 the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission narrowly endorsed the project in a split 5-4 vote, and neighbors also have had dissenting views. Read Moore’s story for more details.

Hanna Boys Center donated land on three of the four corners as part of its recent capital improvements project and has agreed to maintain the roundabout. The boulder and landscaping were designed to compliment Hanna’s stone entrywalls.

O’Kane explained that the roundabout’s landscaping is intentionally high. It’s a safety feature standard in all roundabouts, required by Caltrans and in other states throughout the country. Dirt mounds and other landscaping features make a statement that traffic approaching the roundabout should slow down. In other locations, trucks have been known to drive straight across roundabouts with lower profiles.

Drivers aren’t supposed to see over the boulders, O’Kane said, because they don’t need to see cars on the other side, just the ones  to their left as they’re merging.

Question: Are there any plans for a traffic signal at Stony Point and Roblar Roads? It’s almost impossible to turn left from Roblar Rd. on to Stony Point toward Cotati during commute hours. — JT

Answer: It’s in the plans, but construction has stalled because the quarry is obligated to pay for it and to rebuild several miles of Roblar Road. But because the quarry is trying to expand and is waiting for a court hearing, the traffic signal and road work have been stalled. The Press Democrat reported in September that a hearing date is expected late this year or early next year.

Question: Any chance you know what’s going on with the asphalt project on Eastside Road? They finished the asphalt at least two weeks ago and seem to have abandoned ship. no striping has been done, the road is littered with cones and barricades, and the stop sign at the intersection of Eastside and Trenton-Healdsburg is in the wrong place (hurriedly tacked up on an available power pole, many yards back from where it was, and in a place where you can’t actually see the rest of the intersection that well). Wondering when they’re going to finish up? — Kim Dow

Answer: The county was waiting for the striping crew before it could officially finish the project and pick up the cones. That crew is working on Eastside and Westside roads this week. Read this week’s Road Report for more details.

Question: The Union Hotel, a Rincon Valley restaurant, has recently installed two signs on Mission Blvd. & Quigg Drive advertising the presence of a Peet’s Coffee inside the restaurant.  The combination of the two new signs with the restaurant’s existing sign blocks drivers’ views toward Montgomery Drive who are stopped on westbound Quigg at Mission who are trying to turn right on a red light.  You have to creep out into the intersection to see whether you’re going to be T-boned by northbound traffic on Mission. Can the restaurant be asked to move the signs back a little? — Jeff DiCello

Answer: This letter was sent to the city’s code enforcement department with the understanding that they would take care of it. DiCello wrote back to say, “It looks like they moved one of the signs (one of those movable, A-frame sidewalk signs) a few days ago. It’s a little easier to see now.” On Monday the sign was back in its original location.

Question: What’s the green paint on Rohnert Park Expressway for? I saw workers painting green on the roadway. — Martha

Answer: The expressway was recently repaved and is being restriped. The green paint designated the bike lanes.

Hopland paving projects

Question: In recent years CalTrans has nicely repaved all of Hwy 175 in Lake and Mendocino counties, with the exception of a 4.5 mile stretch of the Hopland Grade just 5-10 miles west of Lakeport. This year they ground off the top layer of pavement on that stretch and apparently left it? When are they going to finish the job?

They paved all of hwy 175 from Middletown to Hopland, but left a 4.5 mile stretch w/o new pavement. This year they ground off the top layer of pavement on that stretch and left it. — Michael Byrne

Answer: Caltrans has ground off a thin layer of open grade asphalt in a number of areas this summer.  The layer was beginning to fail and break down into gravel, so removing it exposed the still intact base layer.  On this section of Route 175 we have no current plans to repave due to tight paving funds. — Phil Frisbee, Caltrans spokesman

Question: When is CalTrans going to complete the work between the Hopland Bridge and town? The surface was ground off the road ages ago, and there’s been no sign of any repaving. I regularly drive between Santa Rosa and Ukiah and this section is harder on my car than any of the back roads. Thanks for acknowledging that we “road warriors” are connected throughout the north part of the state, not just Sonoma County. — Catherine de la Cruz

Answer: Caltrans ground off the thin top layer of failing asphalt in order to reduce the rutting and the amount of rocks coming loose.  We have initiated a paving project, but it will likely not be repaved until the summer of 2015. — Phil Frisbee


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  1. Jeff DiCello

    And this morning the sign has been moved to a less obstructive position.

    November 5th, 2013 7:24 am

  2. Jim

    Might not be a bad idea to — again — publish the Rules Of The Roundabout, as letters like Dianne’s demonstrate that drivers generally don’t understand how these things work. If she thinks she needs to see the traffic on the other side of the roundabout then she’s obviously not looking where she should be looking.

    And, so far, that’s been my experience at this roundabout. Drivers are not checking to their left to see if there’s any oncoming traffic, they’re looking to their right to see if anybody is entering the roundabout they’ll need to dodge once they’re in it, and they just pull right in… I’ve been cut off every time I’ve gone through this thing by drivers entering without yielding and not a one of them has seen me.

    Slow down on the approach, look to your left NOT your right, yield to people already in the circle, merge in and then use your turn signal as you approach your exit.

    Okay, the turn signal thing is probably too much to expect.

    November 5th, 2013 12:25 pm

  3. Volt guy

    Jim, It is hard to fathom that so many people can’t remember the one simple rule about using a roundabout (yield to traffic in the circle). What is even worse is watching people try and go around them the wrong way. I see it far to often at the roundabout on Stony Circle.

    November 5th, 2013 1:55 pm

  4. ScottB

    Specific to Modern Roundabouts are these four rules:
    1. Slow down,
    2. Yield to pedestrians,
    3. yield to drivers already in the circular roadway,
    4. signal your exit (keeps things moving).
    Signaling left until you’re ready to exit might help some motorists not jump in front. At a multi-lane modern roundabout, like any other multi-lane intersection, motorists should watch for the lane use signs that tell you which lane to be in based on where you want to go. Like other complex intersections, sometimes only the left lane can turn left, sometimes it can turn left and go through, and some times it can go left, through or right. A lot simpler than signals and modern roundabouts work the same even when the power is out.
    More info: http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009/part3/part3c.htm

    November 6th, 2013 10:39 am

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