As work continues on hundreds of apartment units west of Napa’s auto showroom district, the way into the future housing complex has been completed.
The city on Tuesday opened extensions of Saratoga Avenue and Gasser Drive into The Braydon, an apartment complex under construction that will include 282 units in nine buildings.
The road construction is part of a street network that will open up land long owned by the Gasser Foundation west of Soscol Avenue, which will become the site for multifamily housing, new car dealerships and other projects.
As the redevelopment of Gasser Foundation lands has progressed, motorists have endured months of road work, barriers and narrowed lanes on Soscol, one of Napa’s busiest thoroughfares. The resulting payoff is a main street for the future apartment dwellers nearby – and a longer bypass for those avoiding the heaviest of local traffic.
While visiting the streets on Monday a day before the opening, “I thought, ‘Wow, won’t it be great to go onto a back road and go back downtown?’” said Mayor Jill Techel, the only current City Council member in office when the development won approval in 2004.
“I think the public will be amazed by the connectivity, the options to get around. When it’s all open it’ll be a parallel road, and we won’t always have to go to Soscol. I’m excited.”
Napa announced the opening of the new connections Tuesday afternoon on the city’s Facebook account. Activation of traffic signals at both crossings was delayed about a week due to heavy late-winter rains in the North Bay, according to Eric Whan, interim public works manager.
Drivers can enter Saratoga at a new signalized intersection on Soscol Avenue, home to the city’s car dealerships, and turn west to a traffic circle linking it with Peatman Drive, The Braydon’s main north-south route.
Meanwhile, northbound Gasser Drive behind the South Napa Marketplace now continues past its old terminus at Kansas Avenue through another new crossing, also equipped with stoplights, that leads to a bridge across Tulocay Creek. The two-lane span, which is 125 feet long and 46 feet wide, is expected to relieve traffic congestion on Soscol, the spine of Napa’s largest commercial and retail district.
Past the new bridge, Gasser Drive turns north and then east, with the south end of Peatman Drive branching off it before Gasser flows into a right-in, right-out intersection with Soscol at the south end of the Gasser Building. Peatman Drive continues northward to another circle connecting it with the former Oil Company Road, which has been rebuilt into a western extension of Sousa Lane.
Traffic appeared light on the new streets’ first afternoon of service, with most drivers sticking to the old path north up Gasser and east onto Kansas. A few curious motorists ventured across the Tulocay Creek bridge and the Saratoga circle, but the atmosphere remained mostly placid, the calm broken only by the bubbling creek or the distant tapping of construction workers’ hammers from the unfinished apartments.
In addition to the new crossings, signals and bridge, the project removed Soscol’s central turning lane – which allowed drivers to cross the street into showrooms and private driveways – in favor of a raised median that separates the two directions of traffic except at left-turn pockets.