Bike lane improvements approved for Arnold Drive

Harrowing stretch from Madrone to Sonoma Golf Club to be improved over four-year schedule, thanks to new funding.|

Cyclists have long been frustrated by the bike-unfriendly section of Arnold Drive that runs from Glen Ellen to the Springs, from Madrone Road to Agua Caliente Drive and beyond. Deep culverts and vegetation close to the shoulders on both sides constrict the two-lane road, making travel harrowing and risky.

The county Department of Transportation and Public Works is working to correct the unsafe passage by budgeting almost $600,000 for the design and engineering of a bike lane upgrade, adding a crucial link to the county’s Class 2 bike path system.

“I have been working on the Arnold Drive bike lanes for most of my two terms, and I’m very pleased that the (request for proposal) for design work is moving forward,” 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin said. On July 13, the county awarded a $594,814 contract to GHD Inc. of Santa Rosa to provide engineering design services. The construction of the project will be awarded in a separate contract.

“The bike lanes are important for cyclist safety; many residents and visitors use Arnold Drive as a safer route than Highway 12 from Sonoma to Santa Rosa and beyond,” Gorin added.

Almost $600,000 was set aside in the 2021-22 Sonoma County budget for design, and the 2.7-mile long project calls for construction to be completed by June, 2025.

Construction will be awarded by a separate contract, said Public Works Director Johannes Hoevertsz. Though he was reluctant to put a final dollar cost on the construction contract, he suggested it would be about $1.5 million. Grants from the Sonoma County Transportation Authority and dollars from Measure M will account for most of the cost of the overall project.

“This is definitely huge progress,” said former Mayor Logan Harvey from his new home in Seattle. “It will help connect Glen Ellen with Sonoma, and a lot of the children who go to school in Sonoma that live in Glen Ellen or the apartment buildings on Madrone will certainly benefit from the opportunity to ride safely to school.”

The contractor chosen for the design and engineering phase, GHD, is the local office of an international employee-owned technical professional services firm based in Australia. It has done many projects in the county, Sonoma Valley and the City of Sonoma since it was established locally 27 years ago.

The bike lane system being developed in the county will build upon a 2010 Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, which outlined an extensive network of Class 2 lanes – wide bike lanes safely separated by striping and signage from vehicle traffic, while following the same roads, streets and highways.

The bikeway map from that report identifies Class 2 or higher bike lanes throughout the Sonoma Valley from Kenwood to Schellville, including Warm Springs Road and Arnold Drive. Additional planned routes would connect along Fremont Drive, Napa Road, Leveroni Road and State Route 37.

Bikeways-Map (1).pdf

Past improvements to Arnold Drive have included 6-foot-wide paved shoulders, and a similar design is expected for the Madrone-to-Agua Caliente section. The section facing improvement extends south of Agua Caliente Road to the entrance to the Sonoma Golf Club, beyond which the shoulders are wider and Class 2-compliant.

This route runs roughly parallel to the projected Sonoma Valley Trail multi-use path from Santa Rosa to the El Verano, a route under focused study and development by Permit Sonoma. Taken with the multi-use Sonoma City Trail and a projected Sonoma-Schellville Bikeway, the paths will help provide a non-automotive travel opportunity for residents and visitors.

“The planned Class 2 bike lanes in the unincorporated county total 332.4 miles,“ according to Dana Turrey of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority. At present, however, only 80 miles of existing Class 2 bike paths have been finalized – though there are some 111 total miles of completed bike paths in the county.

Turrey added that an updated countywide bike plan from 2014 identifies 389 miles of Class 2 lanes, and while some additional lanes have moved from “planned” to “completed,” there is no easy way to catalog the current status of Class 2 bike lanes in the county.

Clearly, there are still miles to go before the county meets its stated 2010 goal to create “a viable transportation alternative to the automobile for residents of Sonoma County through a safe and convenient bicycle and pedestrian transportation network, well integrated with transit, that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase outdoor recreational opportunities, and improve public health.”

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