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Sonoma Vita festival presents detours for drivers, restricted Santa Rosa parking

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For a full list of street closures, visit: sonomavita.com/road-closures

The Levi’s GranFondo cycling event is marking its 10th year this weekend with a new festival and expanded format that will be based in Santa Rosa and roll out across Sonoma County, with new ripples for the region’s traffic flow.

The newly minted multi-day event, dubbed Sonoma Vita — meaning “life” in Italian — will offer live music, a beer and wine festival and a paella competition in downtown Santa Rosa. That’s in addition to a 1-mile footrace around downtown on Sunday to go along with the traditional Saturday group ride that draws thousands of cyclists to county roads and remains the centerpiece of the weekend.

Street closures have already started around Old Courthouse Square so crews can erect the music stage and vendor area for cyclists, runners and other weekend participants. Those closures will ramp up starting Friday afternoon for an athlete expo and kick-off event.

The bike ride has new start and finish locations this year, so drivers need to beware. It is starting at the Place to Play athletic complex and finishing at Old Courthouse Square, where the music, food, beer and wine offerings will be staged over the weekend.

The biggest effect on traffic outside the city center will be Saturday morning, with roadblocks in place starting at 7:30 a.m. on Fulton Road at West 3rd Street. That closure will extend west from Hall Road to Sanford Road, and south from Sanford Road to Occidental Road. Each street is expected to reopen at or around 9 a.m., though a CHP spokesman said those are all approximations and could last longer.

Both Santa Rosa Avenue from 1st Street to Sonoma Avenue and 2nd Street at D Street will be closed downtown from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Other roads including Mendocino Avenue between 4th and 5th streets and D Street from 3rd to 4th streets will be closed or allow only one-way traffic, and public safety officials recommend choosing different routes or waiting to head downtown until later in the day.

“If you have shopping to do downtown, this might not be the weekend to do it,” said Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Summer Gloeckner. “There are plenty of alternate routes to get people where they need to go, but be advised that it will take longer and will have detours. Just plan for some extra time.”

Other parts of the county on Saturday can expect CHP officers overseeing blocked roadways on Sullivan Road from Mill Station Road to Graton Road. Bohemian Highway from Occidental Road to Monte Rio will have temporary closures Saturday morning as well, with each expected to open back up by 10 a.m.

All-day street closures and parking restrictions Sunday will cover the area around Old Courthouse Square, site of the revived Downtown Mile foot race that starts at 9:30 a.m. The accompanying paella competition, beer and wine festival and live music, begin at 11 a.m. and run until 3 p.m.

Motorists should look for parking on side streets in downtown, the lots at Santa Rosa Plaza shopping mall, in the structure behind the Roxy Stadium movie theater or other parking garages.

Sonoma Vita organizer Carlos Perez said the goal of the expanded event is to invite the entire community out for a weekend of fun, rather than just catering to the athletes who travel from around the world to participate. He recognizes the added inconveniences of more road and main artery closures to visitors and residents, but hopes the attractions this weekend outweigh any drawbacks.

For a full list of street closures, visit: sonomavita.com/road-closures

“Obviously there’s an athletic piece to it, but we’re trying to create something that’s attractive to a much broader audience,” said Perez, founder of the Bike Monkey group that owns and runs the GranFondo. “Once you get used to a routine, then have to go out of your way and it takes a few more minutes to get where you’re going, it can suck. We hope all benefit in some way from an event focused on the community more than others have been.”

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