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How Are Those New Carpool Lanes Working For You?

Caltrans and regional transportation agencies are celebrating the HOV lanes that now run on Highway 101 through Novato. Are you seeing some traffic relief?

Hey, rush hour warriors, how is the northbound commute on Highway 101 these days? Has the new carpool lane helped?

On Wednesday, one week after the northbound lane was opened up between Highway 37 and the San Marin Drive/Atherton Avenue exit, officials got together for a collective high-five at park-and-ride lot off Rowland Boulevard in Novato. 

Caltrans, the Transportation Authority of Marin and the Sonoma County Transportation Authority had a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the first phase of the Marin Sonoma Narrows
Widening Projects on 101.

“Today marks a major step in providing uninterrupted carpool lanes between Marin and Sonoma Counties,” Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty said in a release. “This first phase of the Marin-Sonoma Narrows widening brings us closer to our goal of reduced congestion, and increased safety along this highway.”

There is still much work to come. The HOV lane extensions were just the first of many that will widen 101 from Novato to Petaluma, known as “the Narrows.” The northbound section between San Marin/Atherton and the Redwood Landfill goes from four lanes to just two and creates a bottleneck every day.

Marin County Supervisor Judy Arnold, who represents most of Novato on the county board, praised the contributions of the California Transportation Commission, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Transportation Authority of Marin and Caltrans.

“The people of Marin and Novato have waited a long time for this project," said Arnold, also a vice chair of TAM. "I am looking forward to moving ahead with the next phases.”

The $50 million project built a new carpool lane in each direction on U.S.
Route 101.

The northbound HOV lane, which opened Aug. 8, runs three miles. The new  southbound HOV lane is 1 1/2 miles between Novato Creek and Highway 37. Both carpool lanes connect to existing carpool lanes between Highway 37 to Highway 1 in the Tam Junction area.

Of the $50 million allocated for the project, $31 million came from
Proposition 1B, the 2006 voter-approved transportation bond. In total,
about $14 billion in Proposition 1B funds have been distributed statewide.

Craig Belfor August 18, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Every plummer knows that it doesn't mater where the spigot is, at the beginning, middle, or the end, the flow will still be restricted the same. The spigot is the two lanes. In 1973 I worked nights on Sneath Lane in San Bruno, moving the Federal Records Center. We had to be there at 3.30 pm. I left my place on Gravenstein Highway east of Sebastopol at 2.45 every day and made it on time, going through Novato before the freeway bypass was built, stopping at the lights. There were only two lanes both ways all of the time, with no bottleneck. Giving us another lane for only another mile or two will not do it. It will just move the road rage a little north.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr August 18, 2012 at 09:32 PM
4 to 3 to 2, just moves the Novato Narrows a couple of miles north. It is still 2 lanes from north of San Marin to north of Petaluma. Diamond lanes are a joke. No one "commutes" because of them. People still travel alone or in a group of the same size as they always have done. CalTrans has made no beginning at widening the Petaluma River Bridge. Until they do, the Novato Narrows will still be collision central. ...and the Novato Fire Department and police will still incur the tax expense of responding.
Heidi Eberle August 22, 2012 at 08:23 PM
WOW! I watch the traffice as I go south and it seems to me the traffic is worse! My concern is...why is there a commute lane on the exit going south from Rowland? It is very scary with lanes merging from the freeway
Iggy Hop September 01, 2012 at 07:21 PM
The problem has nothing to do with the extra lane being a commute lane -- the bottleneck of 4-to-3-to-2 lanes in a half-mile stretch creates a huge mess all the time, regardless of commute hours. How did they not see this coming? And why are federal and state funds used for the small portion of a federal highway that runs through a wealthy county like Marin which has half the population (and a third the land mass) of its poor neighbor to the north? Anyone else notice how long it's taken to get the extra lane open in Petaluma (and they still haven't paved all the lanes) compared to how quickly they created the extra lane in Novato? I'd say one or two folks with the deciding vote on where to make these Highway 101 improvements either live in Marin or get their pockets lined by someone who does.
Craig Belfor September 01, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Iggy- You're implying that the power people are adding just enough lanes to keep their road open, sending the jam to the hicks up north. This would mean a gross misuse of power for personal gain,without regard to the consequences of others, something that's morally wrong and doesn't ever happen(?). You're wrong on one point: The people up north are not that poor or unrepresented, as the road construction in Rohnert Park and Santa Rosa dwarfs the road work in Marin, but your assumption that life, like politics is not fair hits the nail on the head.

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