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Marin, Sonoma County to fund Hwy 101 widening

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  • 7/3 Marin IJ
    Published Tuesday, July 3, 2001, in the Marin Independent Journal Counties fund freeway widening By Mark Prado The long-anticipated Novato Narrows widening
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 3, 2001
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      Published Tuesday, July 3, 2001, in the Marin Independent Journal

      Counties fund freeway widening

      By Mark Prado

      The long-anticipated Novato Narrows widening project on Highway 101
      is gaining momentum, with officials in Marin and Sonoma counties
      taking steps to acquire funding for the massive $235 million project.

      Marin's Congestion Management Agency approved a plan last week that
      shifts $10 million away from local roads, local transit and bicycle
      and pedestrian plans and toward the Narrows project. On Monday, the
      Sonoma County Transportation Authority will consider its own plan to
      shift $10 million toward the Narrows project.

      The commute bottleneck that occurs along the Narrows has been a
      growing source of frustration for drivers as more vehicles use the
      section of Highway 101 and as Sonoma County continues to grow. The
      stretch of freeway through Marin and Sonoma is the fourth busiest
      commute pocket in the Bay Area.

      The project calls for widening, by at least one lane, the eight-mile
      stretch of roadway between Novato and Petaluma, where traffic moves
      in two lanes in each direction.

      Officials at the California Department of Transportation and the
      Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area's transportation
      planning agency, have told county officials they would push for state
      funding for the project if Marin and Sonoma contribute a combined $20
      million.

      "The project would have fairly good standing with local support,"
      said Doug Kimsey, MTC senior planner. "The fact that the counties are
      willing to use money that otherwise would go locally definitely
      helps. We recognize the importance of the project."

      Marin's bicycle community has not objected to the money being moved
      toward the Narrows plan. The project would include a bicycle path the
      length of the project, said Farhad Mansourian, head of Marin's
      Congestion Management Agency.

      Suzanne Wilford, executive director of the Sonoma County
      Transportation Authority, said she expects the authority board to
      approve the shift in funding.

      "It's a huge project that will have to rely on state and federal help
      as well," she said. "Hopefully, with all the agencies working
      together, we can get his done sooner rather than later."

      The $20 million from the counties would be combined with an existing
      $35 million for the project. The final $180 million would come from
      the state Interregional Transportation Improvement Program, but it is
      not guaranteed.

      The final decision will be made by the California Transportation
      Commission later this summer, but the project has a better chance if
      the MTC and Caltrans are behind it, officials said.

      If the money did arrive it would be part of a 25-year plan, but Marin
      officials believe the project could be finished within six to eight
      years.
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