The extensive repercussions of the roadwork in progress around the Valley took drivers by surprise last week. On Friday afternoon, hundreds of drivers were stuck on both east-west and north-south roads on the west side of the Valley. West Watmaugh between Broadway and Arnold Drive, for example, was backed up from end to end in both directions by 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 8.
This week, more electronic message boards have been placed in key areas in advance of roadwork to alert drivers to the delays.
Drivers are also being encouraged to use traffic apps (like Google maps and Waze) and to view updated county websites for the most recent information before heading out on the roads.
The primary projects in the area that are contributing to delays are work being done on Fifth Street West, between Leveroni and Sonoma city limits, and Boyes Boulevard, between Arnold Drive and Highway 12.
More than 100 drivers posted frustrated comments on an Index-Tribune Facebook photo of the traffic on Watmaugh on Friday afternoon. Many posters agreed with Anthony Alva, who said that it took him 35 minutes to get across town, “Construction should not be allowed during commute hours at all,” he said.
Several commenters lamented that the roadwork didn’t stop prior to school letting out on Friday and start of the evening commute. A handful (probably those not on the roads) bravely defended the Public Works Department, however, pleased that the roads in question are finally getting repaired.
The roadwork that began early last week is called Cold In-Place Recycling. The process involves milling the old asphalt with an asphalt emulsion, compacting the new road base, and then paving a new surface with asphalt concrete.
According to county officials, this process improves the foundation of the road, and provides a complete new road surface – with an expected lifetime of about 10 years.
This type of intensive construction requires alternating lanes to be closed for periods of time. The milling process will continue through this week, however, the county has said that it will not close any lanes on Arnold this coming Friday, Sept. 15.
After the road is milled there will be a pause in construction to allow the new road base to cure, followed by paving and striping.
A slurry seal project on 19 interior city roads is also in the works and due to officially begin next week, with mobilizing, removing paving markings/striping, and crack sealing this week. The slurry seal treatment itself is expected to be performed the week of Sept. 18, within a two-day period. Work will take place during the day between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. All work is expected to be completed by the end of September.
During the slurry seal treatment, specific streets will need to be closed for approximately four-to-six-hours, depending upon air temperatures. Notification letters will be distributed to properties fronting each street segment to provide notice of vehicular access and parking restrictions. In addition, and at least 72-hours prior to the crack sealing and slurry seal treatment on each street segment, “No Parking” signs will be posted to give notice of parking and street restrictions. During any street closures, private vehicles will not be allowed to access the street either in transit or leaving their driveways. Emergency vehicles will have continuous access. Certain streets with heavier traffic will have signed detour routes.
It's a race weekend
The GoPro Grand Prix is Sept. 15-17 at Sonoma Raceway. Traffic on the surrounding roadways may be impacted, particularly the two-lane stretches of Highways 37 and 121. The raceway expects traffic to be most affected during the following days/times:
- Friday, Sept. 15: Raceway events should not impact road conditions.
- Saturday, Sept. 16: Raceway events should not impact road conditions.
- Sunday, Sept. 17: Between 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-8 p.m.
The heaviest traffic is expected on Sunday.