Highway 29 ‘visioning’ phase nearly done

2013-03-21T20:30:00Z Highway 29 ‘visioning’ phase nearly doneMICHAEL WATERSON Napa Valley Register
March 21, 2013 8:30 pm  • 

A multi-faceted road into the renowned Napa Valley that encourages walking, bicycling and public transit while providing access for local residences and businesses and smooth, uncongested traffic-flow for commuters: That is what the Highway 29 of the future should look like, according to a draft report presented to officials Thursday.

The report is the result of the first “visioning” phase of a Caltrans-funded Highway 29 Gateway Corridor Improvement Plan study.

The study focuses on a 13-mile stretch of the state-owned road from the Solano County line north to Trancas Street in Napa, an often congested thoroughfare during morning and evening rush hours.

Any plan for the corridor must also dovetail with proposed highway improvements in Vallejo. The goal of the study is to come to a consensus on ways to improve mobility and decrease congestion, while remaining sensitive to adjacent land uses and following the state’s “complete streets” guidelines.

The task is complicated by the ever-changing character of the highway’s surrounding environs between Vallejo and Napa.

Meeting for the second time, the steering committee — elected officials of the four affected jurisdictions — praised the report, the fruit of two public workshops and citizen advisory committee meetings. The report was drafted by Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency managers, urban planners Dyett & Bhatia and other traffic and planning consultants.

Napa Mayor Jill Techel said all involved did a “fabulous job” of listening to the wants and concerns of each jurisdiction.

“Overall, this is a great plan,” said Dan McElhinney, chief deputy director for Caltrans.

American Canyon Mayor Leon Garcia said the vision for the highway has improved.

“It’s much more refined now,” Garcia said. “It’s evolved to a much better point.”

Not everyone agreed. In a letter to the steering committee, Napa resident Genji Schmeder, a member of the corridor study’s citizens advisory committee, described the study as a lost opportunity.

“The Draft Corridor Vision Plan misses our main chance to permanently improve transportation in south Napa County,” wrote Schmeder, who took the study to task for not putting more emphasis on public transportation.

“Focusing on improving the commuter driving experience on (Highway 29) will narrow our study to the most expensive, least permanent remedies,” Schmeder wrote.

Elliot Hurwitz, project manager for NCTPA, said the next step would be to start the implementation phase of the project when the steering committee meets again in June.

Caldwell said he knows a lot of people who are tired of planning eager to start working on specific improvements.

“You’ll get a lot more engaged individuals,” Caldwell said.

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(4) Comments

  1. napa-transit
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    napa-transit - March 22, 2013 5:10 pm
    Kudos to Ms. Schmeder for her insightful input! Many of us are tired of all this complaining about traffic, but we are very disappointed in this so-called "vision."
    Highway widening is well-researched and just doesn't work. Are planners in American Canyon really so naive that they think it will work for Napa? Widening the highway in American Canyon will just bring more cars and pollution into the up valley areas, and we all know what a nightmare traffic is already. Do we want the rest of the county to look like American Canyon?
    Napa County has a lot to lose as a result of climate change, and many residents call themselves environmentalists. We want real solutions, not money-wasting band-aids that will make our traffic worse.
    Napa County doesn't need more car lanes, it needs more transportation choices.
  2. napa-transit
    Report Abuse
    napa-transit - March 22, 2013 5:21 pm
    This "vision" is very shortsighted. Kudos to Ms. Schmeder for pointing this out.
    Moving more traffic faster through American Canyon isn't a solution. Where will all this extra traffic go? Upvalley. Didn't anyone envision that? Let's hope that Napa County's vision improves, especially in American Canyon.
    We need real solutions and real transit if we really want things to improve.
  3. YoWoof
    Report Abuse
    YoWoof - March 27, 2013 12:23 pm
    Mr. Schmeder makes some excellent points. However the underlying problem is our fascination/addiction to the personal automobile and our unwillingness to use, and support, public transportation. As long as these cultural values reign supreme, there will be little significant change. However, I am glad to see that a few token gestures were made towards pedestrian and bicycle usage. Progress? About 100 years ago the people of St. Helena could go shopping in San Francisco and be back for diner in the evening, all using public transportation...
  4. Just Concerned
    Report Abuse
    Just Concerned - April 03, 2013 1:18 pm
    What we need is another road, i.e., scenic parkway, into and out of Napa County from I-80. A throughway from Green Valley Road in Suisun to Green Valley Road in Napa to Coombsville Road would be perfect. Build it and they will come.
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