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Sonoma City Council votes to give Broadway a road diet

When Caltrans comes to restripe Broadway in October, it will likely have a new design. On Monday, the Sonoma City Council voted 3-1 to replace the current five-lane design design with a new road diet that features three lanes of traffic tucked in between 9-foot parking lanes and 6-foot bike lanes, along with 8-feet of buffer designed to protect cyclists and pedestrians.

Known as Option B, the new layout will begin north of the MacArthur Street intersection, and include enhanced crosswalks with “pedestrian refuge islands” to ensure safe crossing. It is expected to cost the city $41,700 and will take 30-60 days to complete, depending on Caltrans’ schedule.

City staff recommended the slightly different Option A, which cost $43,200 and follows a more tradition design of cars parked by either sidewalk, then bike lanes surrounded by painted buffers, with traffic lanes in the middle. Pubic Works Director and City Engineer Colleen Ferguson called Option B a “newer concept” for road designs, since the parking lane is separated from the sidewalk by a bike lane.

“My worry is people are more likely to get confused with Option B,” she said, explaining that they might park in the bike lane out of habit of parking next to a sidewalk.

Despite staff concerns, Mayor Madolyn Agrimonti quickly identified Option B as her preferred choice, and found support from councilmembers Jack Ding and Bob Felder. Councilmember Kelso Barnett was the lone voice of dissent, citing public opinion and a lack of data about the benefits of such a road diet.

"This plan to keep it how it is was approved last year by the city council after exhaustive public input. After, I believe, two meetings last year where it was discussed, it was approved by five elected officials,“ said the recently appointed council member while explaining his ”no“ vote on changing Broadway’s lanes.

The issue of restriping Broadway was first considered in 2020, when the then-council voted to reduce the traffic lanes and add bike lanes. However, a whirlwind of public outrage led the council to take back the decision a month later, instead deciding to leave the roadway as it is.

But after a woman was seriously injured, her dog killed, when she was hit in the crosswalk at Andrieux Street on April 17, the council refocused its attention on safety and slowing traffic through the “gateway to Sonoma.”

In order to save the city $17,000 on its portion of project costs, Ferguson said the council had to act quickly with a vote on Monday so that the city had time to partner with Caltrans before its repaving work on Broadway begins.

This story is developing — check Friday’s Index-Tribune for more details.

Contact editor/publisher Emily Charrier at emily.charrier@sonomanews.com.

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