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TRANSPORTATION

Project to relieve congestion at Highways 29/221 could go to bid next year

Soscol Junction

All of the funding is in place to start building the $64 million Soscol Junction in 2022. The project will put Highway 29 on an overpass over Highway 221, which will have two roundabouts.

Soscol Junction, the biggest local highway congestion-relieving project in years, just received a crucial financial boost.

The California Transportation Commission last week approved $25 million for Soscol Junction. That’s the final funding piece needed for this $64 million undertaking where Highway 29 and Highway 221 meet, south of the city of Napa near the Grape Crusher statue.

“It’s a huge day,” Napa Valley Transportation Authority Executive Director Kate Miller said.

The project should go out to bid in 2021. Construction will hopefully begin in early 2022, she said.

When Soscol Junction is finished, the traffic signals at Highway 29 and Highway 221 will be gone. Highway 29 traffic will flow freely on an overpass. Underneath, two roundabouts will control Highway 221 traffic that enters and exits Highway 29 or continues to Soscol Ferry Road.

Without this project, delays at today’s signalized intersection are expected to top five minutes in 2025. Delays with Soscol Junction in place will be eight to 15 seconds, according to a 2019 report released by Caltrans.

There’s a new twist. Napa County could build yet another roundabout a short distance from Soscol Junction at the Soscol Ferry Road and Devlin Road intersection.

The original idea was to install a traffic signal there. But transitioning from the nearest Soscol Junction roundabout to a traffic signal would be challenging from engineering and safety standpoints, as well as for the motorist experience, a county report said.

Soscol Junction and the Devlin/Soscol Ferry roundabout could be separate projects built at the same time to take advantage of economies-of-scale. The Devlin/Soscol Ferry roundabout would cost an estimated $2 million.

If all this comes to fruition, Highway 221 traffic heading to Devlin Road will go through three roundabouts — the two in Soscol Junction and the one at Devlin/Soscol roads.

Miller said she thinks the traveling public will accept this triple roundabout configuration. She based this on what she sees as a positive public reaction to the recently completed three-roundabouts project in the city of Napa near First Street and Highway 29.

The question is whether Napa County wants to spend $2 million on the proposed Devlin/Soscol Ferry roundabout at a time its budget is suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board of Supervisors will decide on Dec. 15.

But, no matter what happens with the $2 million Devlin/Soscol Ferry roundabout, the $64 million Soscol Junction project should remain on track.

Soscol Junction will be the biggest highway project in Napa County since the Highway 12 widening in Jameson Canyon that finished in 2014. Money is coming from Senate Bill 1 fuel and vehicle fee hikes, other state funds and local funds such as developer fees.

Beyond Soscol Junction, transportation officials are already beginning to look at another, possible major Highway 29 project for some time in the indefinite future. That one too could involve roundabouts.

This project would be at Highway 29 and Highway 12/Airport Boulevard intersection, at the entrance to Jameson Canyon, where traffic backs up at traffic signals. Again, Highway 29 traffic could be free-flowing on an overpass with two roundabouts controlling traffic making various turns below.

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You can reach Barry Eberling at 256-2253 or beberling@napanews.com.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.

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