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‘Big Pave’ project on Highway 101 in northern Sonoma County set for speedy finish

A fresh layer of asphalt is being laid in short order atop Highway 101 between Geyserville and Cloverdale, giving the longest span of the least traveled and most rutted stretch of Highway 101 in Sonoma County a long-awaited face.

Road crews kicked off repaving work on the second phase of the “Big Pave” project Tuesday night in Geyserville, and expect to finish the $62 million job in just three weeks. Reduced traffic counts along the 11-mile stretch due to the coronavirus stay-at-home order are helping speed the work, according to Caltrans.

“It’s about time. And it’s nice in the middle of a pandemic that you get some good news,” said Supervisor James Gore, whose district includes the area. “It’s great to have a great project go in quickly because of the situation we already find ourselves in. I’m just shocked of the estimation of three weeks.”

The first phase of the repaving project ran 14 miles from Windsor to Geyserville and started in spring 2017. It required a year and a half to complete and cost $74 million, including $55 million for construction.

Berkeley-based O.C. Jones & Sons, Inc. will complete work for Caltrans on the second phase. The project also includes repair work on guardrails and bridges, and replacement of dozens of culverts south of Healdsburg to the Highway 128 junction in Cloverdale, where the repaving ends.

Altogether, the total cost of the second phase, including design and drainage work, is $90 million, according to a Caltrans spokesman. The additional repair work is scheduled to be finished by next fall, but could extend to as far out as fall 2022 if crews run into delays.

The total price of the 25-mile Big Pave is estimated at $164 million, or about $4 million more than when the project started in May 2017. The entire project is funded by state and federal gas tax dollars through the State Highway Operations and Protection Program.

“It’s huge for us. We are a commuting town,” said Cloverdale Councilwoman Melanie Bagby, a board member of the county transportation authority. “Having to endure the rough road and the car repairs that go along with it - it’s long overdue and it’s great for our residents.”

Road crews began repaving the northbound side of the highway this week and will work overnight from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. through May 2. Once they reach the junction with Highway 128, they will switch over to the southbound lanes to complete the repaving work to Canyon Road in Geyserville.

Crews are scheduled to work during the day and night for the two weeks through mid-May to finish the repaving portion of the project. The contractor will limit impacts on traffic by leaving one lane open in each direction at all times throughout the project, according to Caltrans.

“When we did the last section, Geyserville was very concerned about the economic impacts and also disruption of having that many people come through town,” Gore said. “This is hugely needed, and it’s been a long time coming. It’s a great time, while people are not on the roads. And at this point, it’s good to see that they’re moving.”

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin Fixler at 707-521-5336 or kevin.fixler@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @kfixler.

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