Monday night, about 150 people packed into a room at the Petaluma Community Center to hear Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and local transportation officials cast warnings that federal, state and local funding for projects like widening Highway 101 are all drying up at the same time. Read the full story here.
At the federal level, the Highway Trust Fund that pays for half of the state’s highway work, will be depleted next month unless Congress acts. Funds from the state Prop. 1B bonds that voters approved for transportation projects in 2006 are mostly gone and the local Measure M sales tax revenue for transportation has all been committed.
What this means is that the 17-mile stretch of Highway 101 between Petaluma and Novato will continue to be a bottleneck for commuters until at least 2020. You may have seen construction crews working in the area and thought that traffic relief is coming soon. That is not the case. All of the current projects will not add any additional lanes to the highway. The final widening project remains $250 million short.
The ongoing work is the necessary first step to prepare the corridor to be widened once funding is identified, whenever that may be. The current projects will improve four interchanges, replace the Petaluma River Bridge and add frontage roads to serve the residents who will be cut off once direct access to the freeway is closed. There will also be a bike path connecting Petaluma and Novato.