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.