Napa County has chosen major transportation projects it wants included in a Bay Area spending master plan, among them a major makeover for the south county stretch of Highway 29.
The $615 million in transportation funds that could be available to the county isn’t in the bank. And, given the timeline through 2050, many of today’s drivers might not still be driving by the time all of the planning becomes a reality, if it does.
Still, the Napa Valley Transportation Authority Board of Directors on Wednesday approved pursuing what could be the road network of the future. Having projects included in the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Plan Bay Area 2050 would make them eligible for federal funds.
If this vision ever becomes a reality, busy Highway 29 would have a different look. Here’s what’s envisioned, starting in Yountville and going south through American Canyon.
The signalized intersection at Madison Street in Yountville is targeted for $8 million in improvements. But NVTA Board Member and Yountville Mayor John Dunbar noted the list doesn’t say whether this would be an overpass, roundabout or something else.
“It’s intentionally vague because we think there could be various options for that intersection,” NVTA Senior Program Planner Alberto Esqueda responded.
The signalized Highway 29/Trower Avenue intersection in the city of Napa is a major chokepoint, both for the highway and crosstown traffic. Having Trower Avenue run under Highway 29 could cost $35.8 million, according to the spending list.
Drivers would see improvements at the signalized intersections on both sides of the Butler Bridge. The Carneros intersection where Highway 12 heads west to Sonoma is targeted for $4.7 million in changes and Soscol Junction at Highway 221 for $40 million.
Next comes Airport Boulevard, where southbound Highway 29 traffic can back up for a mile as drivers wait to make a left turn onto Highway 12 into Jameson Canyon. This signalized intersection is targeted for a $69 million interchange.
A major traffic tie-up is Highway 29 through American Canyon. An initial planned step here is to reconfigure intersections and synchronize traffic signals at a cost of $21 million.
American Canyon officials also want the state to widen the highway from four lanes to six lanes. NVTA Executive Director Kate Miller has expressed doubt this will happen, given such factors as Caltrans struggling to maintain existing infrastructure.
Still, the six lanes are on the NVTA’s list at a cost of $69 million.
“It’s longer term,” Miller said.
Plenty of items on the list have nothing to do with Highway 29. For example, Trower Avenue in the city of Napa is to be extended from Vintage High School east to Big Ranch Road at a cost of $12.5 million.
Still another city of Napa idea calls for widening busy Soscol Avenue to six lanes from Magnolia Drive to Silverado Trail for $27 million, in the South Napa Marketplace area.
NVTA board member and American Canyon City Councilmember Mark Joseph said he’d like the list to be more than a wish list. But he received no assurances each project will receive the money requests that are shown.
“Kind of like saying, ‘This is the list of eligible projects. Don’t get too hung up on the dollar amount because that doesn’t mean you’ve got any certainty,’" Joseph said. “But at least it’s an eligible project ...”
In some cases, the list calls for funding entire projects through Plan Bay Area 2050 money. In others, only part of the money would come from this source, with additional money to come from other sources.
The list had previously been scrutinized by the public works officials from the county and its cities. The NVTA Board of Directors – which is made up of various county supervisors and city councilmembers – made no changes.
Plan Bay Area 2050 is a state-mandated plan for the nine-county Bay Area that must integrate transportation, land use and housing to meet state greenhouse reduction targets. It will be an updated version of the existing Plan Bay Area 2040.