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Broadway empty lot American Canyon

This empty lot just off Highway 29 in American Canyon is one of dozens that could see development under the city’s Broadway District Specific Plan.

AMERICAN CANYON — American Canyon’s plan to redevelop its Highway 29 corridor could result in adding more than 1,000 new homes, while lowering the highway’s speed limit to make the area more “livable” and facilitate better traffic flows through the city.

Combined with another huge project under consideration, the revamping of the highway corridor could contribute to an almost 50 percent increase in the city’s population and eclipse the long-standing limit for American Canyon’s size, officials said.

The Broadway District Specific Plan, named after the stretch of Highway 29 running from Napa Junction Road to American Canyon Road, seeks to develop and spruce up a key part of the city that until now has been known for empty lots and missed economic opportunities.

The city intends to make it easier for commercial and residential developers to build new homes and businesses in the Broadway corridor, where nearly 40 vacant lots now sit. These parcels make up almost 30 percent of the district’s 300 acres.

Community Development Director Brent Cooper told the City Council last week that if the Broadway plan is successful, it could result in the construction of about 1,200 apartments, condos, townhomes and houses.

The significance of that total was not discussed, nor did it prompt any discussion among the council members as to the population impact of adding that many units.

The 1,200 figure for the Broadway District nearly matches the number of residential units proposed for Watson Ranch, a different project slated for the northeast side of town that would construct 1,250 houses, apartments and townhomes.

Watson Ranch is expected to add 4,000 to 5,000 residents to American Canyon’s current population of 20,000. The Broadway plan on its own could add another 4,000 residents, Cooper told the American Canyon Eagle.

Between these two developments, the city’s population could top 30,000 by 2045, when the projects would be fully built out, according to Cooper.

Cooper said in an interview that the city’s original General Plan, adopted in 1994, called for “a buildout population of 26,678.” He said that estimate was based on a per-person house size of 2.8 residents.

Over the next two decades, the per-person house factor went up to what it is now — 3.49 people, officials said.

Using that factor, the projected population — with Watson Ranch and Broadway District included — would be nearly 31,000, Cooper said.

Regarding the Broadway plan, he said new homes along the highway would “diversify housing opportunities in the city for a broad range of wage earning residents who will live near and patronize our stores and restaurants.”

He added that the 1,200 “dwelling unit assumption in the Broadway District Specific Plan study will establish a baseline so when residential projects are proposed, we will have mitigation measures in place to address environmental impacts and streamline development review.”

Part of the Broadway plan will include conducting an environmental impact report to gauge how the redevelopment effort will affect air quality, traffic and more. Cooper said the environmental report process is slated to begin in April and take about a year to complete.

The environmental report process will include a traffic study to determine how many more vehicle trips will occur each day on the highway as a result of new business and residential developments.

Another key facet of the plan calls for widening the highway from four lanes to six through the Broadway corridor. The addition of two new lanes is intended to help ease traffic congestion on Highway 29 that already becomes clogged during peak commute times.

Changes to the highway also call for lowering the speed limit from its current 55 mph to 35 mph.

“The idea here is we want Broadway to become a livable place,” said Cooper. “Speed limit really is a key issue” in that respect.

While discussing the Broadway plan with the City Council at its March 7 meeting, Cooper said the highway “right now is like an engine that’s out of balance.”

He said by adding more lanes as well as more places for cars to turn off the highway and synchronizing traffic signals, the flow of traffic will be better than it is now, even if the speed limit is reduced to 35 mph.

Councilmember Mark Joseph agreed with Cooper’s assessment, saying: “At commuter time, people would probably kill for 35 miles per hour” compared to the crawl they go through currently in the morning and afternoon.

Joseph asked if city planners had talked to Caltrans about the proposed changes to the highway, given the agency’s jurisdiction over it.

Public Works Director Jason Holley said he’s had informal meetings with Caltrans officials that included showing them the Broadway plan and its designs.

Holley said it was too early in the process to get Caltrans to sign off on the highway blueprint, which could take a decade or more to realize. But, he added, the agency gave no indication so far that it had a problem with the plan’s provisions.

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