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Highway 29

Transportation planners are looking for fixes for Highway 29, which carries 45,000 vehicles daily through American Canyon.

A new $349 million plan to improve Highway 29 in south Napa County includes having six lanes in American Canyon, building a Soscol flyover at Highway 221 and reconfiguring lanes at the Sonoma County turnoff.

The plan also calls for giving Highway 29 a look and character in keeping with the areas it passes through, be it rural or city.

These ideas and more are included in the State Route 29 Gateway Corridor Improvement Plan. The Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency on Wednesday voted to accept the plan.

But much work remains to be done to make the plan a reality, not the least of which is finding money for the projects.

“Right now, we have a road map – no pun intended – to what the improvements would be when funding does become available,” said Napa County Supervisor Keith Caldwell, who sits on the agency board.

Highway 29 is Napa County’s main north-south road, carrying some 60,000 vehicles daily in the city of Napa and 45,000 vehicles daily in American Canyon. The new plan considers it a gateway to the world-famous Napa Valley.

The plan looks at Highway 29 from Vallejo in Solano County to Trancas Street in the city of Napa about 17 miles away.

Out of the various projects included in the plan, a $48 million Soscol flyover at Highway 221 near the Butler Bridge is listed as a priority. That’s because this proposal, which has been around for years, is closest to having environmental work completed, the plan says.

An elevated ramp would take southbound Highway 221 traffic to southbound Highway 29 and a new connector ramp would take southbound Highway 221 traffic to northbound Highway 29. Soscol Ferry Road would be limited to right turns in and right turns out. The traffic signal would be eliminated.

The state Department of Transportation plans to hold a meeting in December to open the 30-day comment period on the draft environmental report, said Kate Miller, executive director of the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency. No money is available yet for construction, she said.

Another project would turn Highway 29 from a four-lane road to a six-lane road through central American Canyon. Landscaping, a bike path and safety improvements for pedestrians would be added. The estimated cost is $25.5 million.

The plan also considers keeping Highway 29 four lanes through American Canyon and adding such improvements as lanes for local traffic separated from the highway by a landscape strip. Miller said this concept acknowledges that American Canyon uses the road as a Main Street, but that the six-lane option does more to ease traffic congestion.

Some ideas mentioned in the plan didn’t make the cut. For example, the plan looks at having a roundabout at the signalized T-intersection where Highway 29 and Highway 121 meet, with Highway 121 leading to the Carneros region and Sonoma County. It rejects the idea.

Instead, the plan calls for keeping the traffic signal, but allowing northbound Highway 29 traffic to always proceed toward the city of Napa without stopping. Vehicles turning left from eastbound Highway 121 to northbound Highway 29 on a green light would enter their own lanes and then merge with Highway 29 traffic.

This alternative would cost an estimated $472,000.

Among the 12 projects in the plan, the last scheduled to be built is a $73 million interchange at Highway 29 and Highway 12 leading to Jameson Canyon and Fairfield.

The plan looks briefly at other Highway 29 ideas that are clearly far away, such such as having buses that run in dedicated lanes and have priority over-traffic at intersections. The plan also mentions having passenger trains running from the Vallejo ferry to St. Helena, not as a proposal, but simply as a possibility.

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