A push to complete Devlin Road and provide at least a smattering of traffic relief on Highway 29 between Napa and American Canyon could be finished in 2019 or 2020.
Devlin Road is to run from Soscol Ferry Road to Green Island Road about 3.5 miles away. Much of it exists, with a quarter-mile gap in the middle and a half-mile gap at the southern end. Build these two missing links and Devlin Road would be complete.
Even a completed Devlin Road won’t be a convenient alternative to a congested highway under most circumstances. The street meanders past concrete tilt-up buildings and brushy fields awaiting development in the airport industrial area. At one point, it swings more than a half-mile to the west of the highway.
But transportation officials predict that completing Devlin Road will remove some truck traffic from Highway 29. These are trucks that presently must use Highway 29 to go from one end of the industrial area to the other.
“I don’t want to blame trucks per se, but trucks do have a tendency to gum up traffic,” county Public Works Director Steven Lederer said. “They’re slow, they take up space.”
American Canyon Interim City Manager Jason Holley said he is uncertain how much traffic relief regional commuters on Highway 29 will experience. But, he said, business-to-business drivers within the industrial area will see a difference because they will no longer have to use the highway.
An American Canyon report said a completed Devlin Road will carry about 5,000 to 10,000 vehicles daily. Traffic reports show that about 3,000 vehicles presently use an existing Devlin Road segment and 48,000 vehicles use the parallel Highway 29 segment.
Holley said a completed Devlin Road will offer another advantage – it can serve as a Highway 29 detour if the highway is blocked.
An accident or flooding that closes Highway 29 south of South Kelly Road presently leaves motorists in a world of hurt. The shortest detour is using Highway 12 through Jameson Canyon and Solano County, which adds about 14 miles to a trip between American Canyon and Napa.
Napa County is in charge of building the missing, quarter-mile piece of Devlin Road in the middle of the industrial area, between Airpark Road and Tower Road. Lederer said the county should put the $6.5 million project out to bid this year and complete the project in 2019. Some of the cost comes from a bridge that must be built over Fagan Creek.
“Bridges are expensive,” Lederer said.
The project hinges on the county receiving $2.5 million from American Canyon. This is money coming from a 2008 agreement between the two parties that allowed the city to annex part of the industrial area. The county is sharing in traffic impact fees paid by development on the land it gave up.
“We haven’t yet ironed out when that payment is going to be,” Holley said. “We won’t be the holdup on that project. We are coordinating with their staff. When that project is ready to go and they need the money, we’ll be going back and making that happen.”
Meanwhile, American Canyon must build the missing southern half-mile piece. Holley said the $9 million project could begin this summer or summer 2019 and take a year to complete. Money is to come from a variety of sources, such as impact fees and the State Transportation Improvement Program.
No Devlin Road to speak of existed in the early 1980s. The county Board of Supervisors in 1982 decided it wanted to name the Highway 29 frontage road-to-be “Devlin.” The county’s 1986 Airport Area Specific Plan recommended that Devlin Road be the main north-south route in the developing industrial area. So did the 2008 county General Plan.
Making this vision a reality has taken time. Devlin Road has grown in fits and starts, as the industrial park has developed.
For example, in 2009 workers started building a section of Devlin Road rising up on a 25-foot-tall bridge over the railroad tracks. This segment was completed after a couple of years, but is a road to nowhere, with the southern terminus just south of the bridge.
If the Napa County and American Canyon segments are completed as planned by 2020, Devlin Road will finally exist as envisioned for more than 20 years.