Over the last four years, we have finally made headway on our traffic issues. And I am happy to say that I played a key role, both as a Council member and as a member of the Countywide Transportation Agency (Napa Valley Transportation Authority, or NVTA). Currently the Vice-Chair, I helped make this Agency more focused on traffic improvement projects and climate-friendly ones, too!
Most importantly, the remaining segment of Devlin Road was completed just this year. You can now go from Green Island Road in American Canyon to Napa without touching State Route (SR) 29. This is a critical connector, especially for our local residents. The last phase is the connection to Eucalyptus, which the Council approved the alignment in 2021.
The overpass at Soscol Junction is also under construction. This will eliminate the traffic signal at SR 29/121/Soscol and install an overpass with two connecting roundabouts for east/west connectors. This project will take roughly two years to complete--the end of 2024 is the earliest. This will eliminate a major bottleneck along highway 29.
Our Highway 29 Corridor project is also moving forward. Last year the Council agreed to work with Caltrans on improving the corridor without additional lanes; and Caltrans agreed there is a need for a parallel road along our eastern border (Newell Extension). With this agreement, we are moving forward with what I call the 29 Corridor Transformation. Caltrans will provide the following:
Sidewalks and dedicated class one bike lanes along both sides of the highway
Underground the utilities and landscape the corridor
Explore the use of roundabouts to eliminate some of the traffic signals
Make other improvements to expedite traffic flow and bus service.
There will need to be more discussion about roundabouts, particularly for a four-lane highway. Part of
the discussion will relate to the number of roundabouts (I don't support roundabouts for all the intersections), as well as the number of intersections along the highway. I support public meetings to talk about this part of the project. We will need a lot of dialogue and public input before we make any decisions.
The current status of this project is we finished the planning phase and we are working on securing funds for the environmental review (we have about 2/3 of what we need). As the Vice-Chair of the Napa Valley Transportation Authority, I will work to find the funding to get this project completed as soon as possible.
This leaves the Newell Extension as the last piece to our traffic puzzle. Since 2016, the Council has embraced the critical need for this road to extend all the way to South Kelley Road. Getting it done will require some creative negotiations. Here is the basic outline of how we can make it happen.
First, we need to negotiate with the County on a comprehensive update to our Urban Limit Line (ULL). Part of that agreement must include lands on the northeast side of town, where the Newell Extension would be built. Bringing this land into the City gives us the leverage to have the property owner build the road and not our current residents. Not only would this help with traffic, but the development of the land would generate jobs, taxes and potentially some very exciting new businesses.
Second, we need to work with existing property owners to finish the Newell Extension to Green Island Road. The mechanism to do this is part of the Development Agreement with the Watson Ranch developer. We need to work with the developer and other property owners in the area to get this phase of the project completed.
In closing, it is important to remember that most of the traffic on SR29 is not triggered by development in our own community. Our trips are a small percentage of the total trips. A case in point: SR 37 has become so congested that commuters will take our Highway 29 to SR 121 to Petaluma, rather than take SR 37, the more direct route.
We still need to take the lead on addressing traffic issues in our town, but we shouldn't let outside commuter traffic keep us from developing our own community, in order to provide the goods and services our residents need and deserve, not to mention the jobs and tax revenues the City needs.