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August 16, 2017
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54 miles of road work to cause delays for some local roads

By: Katheine Minkiewicz
August 4, 2017

Sonoma County Transportation and Public Works are telling Sonoma County residents to expect traffic delays as the department kicked off a 54-mile-long road construction and maintenance project in unincorporated areas of Sonoma County, which will not be completed until around next winter, according to County Supervisor David Rabbitt.

According to a Sonoma County press release, the work to be done over a period of several months will “enhance a total of 255,515 average daily vehicle trips,” and while some roads are still in good condition, Jennifer Larocque, public affairs program manager for the department, said good roads are updated in order to retain their strong infrastructure.

“This is part of a huge push from our supervisors to improve our roads in Sonoma County. Some of the roads if you notice are actually in fairly good and decent condition and one of our techniques we use in Sonoma County to improve our roads is called ‘pavement preservation.’ It’s a fancy way of saying not only do we go in and fix really bad roads, we take care to maintain roads that are in good condition,” Larocque said.

With this combined project of maintenance, slurry seal, asphalt overlay and other road projects, “the construction will have unavoidable traffic delays.”

Roads that will be affected near Cotati, Penngrove and Rohnert Park include, Adobe Road, Old Redwood Highway extended all the way to Windsor and parts of Occidental Road from Highway 116.

Rabbitt said of the delays that he hopes people will understand the importance of the need of road upkeep, despite the fact that it may be an inconvenience for some.

“I recognize for some people that it’s an inconvenience, but at the end of the day I think we all recognize that roads need to be cared for and if you can put up for it for the first few days while they repave the road, what you end up with is something that is good to go for another 10-20 years. So hopefully people will have patience as they work through that,” Rabbitt said.

The extent of the work to be done in the project includes chip seals, fog seals and slurry seals, which can all help to extend the life of a road, according to sonomacounty.ca.gov.

Chip seal work includes spraying liquid asphalt spread thin by “aggregate chips” and is a relatively inexpensive road treatment, fog seal treatment is a flexible emulsion sprayed to help the road’s flexibility and slurry seal is a thicker version of chip seal and helps to extend the life of a road.

The cost of the construction is being covered partly by federal grant funding as well as funds from the supervisors, according to Larocque.

“We are really disadvantaged under state formula for road funding so all of our pavement funds for the past number of years have come from the board of supervisors along with a small amount of federal grant funding,” Larocque said. 

With unavoidable traffic delays, alternative routes of avoiding areas of road work are encouraged, however, roads with work in progress will still have one lane open for motorists.

“Typically, there are (alternative routes) and I know that they have a lot of requirements for letting people know, but a lot of times they will do one way traffic control while they pave one side of the street,” Rabbitt said.

The “Road Construction Schedule and Project Updates page on sonomacounty.ca.gov, does provide Sonoma County residents information on current traffic delays due to the road work to help commuters plan around the delays. Currently, there are no delays for roads being worked on near Cotati, Penngrove and Rohnert Park.

Rabbitt stressed that maintaining pristine roads is important due to the fact that it helps keep roads reliable for all who may use them and maintains a solid infrastructure.

“This is the fourth year of our pretty significant repaving program, where we are now moving in on about 300 miles of roads that have been treated, either paved or sealed, which is the most that we’ve done in generations. It’s something that we’ve really made a priority and I think it is really important for the county,” Rabbitt said. “We all rely on transportation to get to and from places and the more investment that we can put back on our infrastructure and not have deferred maintenance costs, the better we will be.”

In a statement for the press release, Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Shirlee Zane said of the pavement preservation project, “The investments we make in our roads improve the daily lives of Sonoma County residents. We will minimize traffic impacts to the greatest extent possible, while still working efficiently to protect our taxpayer’s investment. We are grateful to neighbors, commuters, drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians for their patience through construction.”