The 2007 document environmental impact report for the Napa County General Plan suggested several roadway expansions, including:
— Widening much of Silverado Trail to four lanes;
— Widening much of Highway 29 to four, and even six, lanes in places;
— Widening of Upvalley two-lane roads such as Deer Park Road and Chiles-Pope Valley Road into four-lane roads.
While these expansions are explained as “…inconsistent with the current county General Plan,” they are also noted as “the necessary roadway improvements that when applied to the 2030 network would mitigate the significant traffic operation impacts at the locations specified” and would “reduce peak hour and daily levels of service to acceptable levels.”
We are already experiencing twice daily traffic gridlock along both Highway 29 and Silverado Trail. Our overly congested road/traffic situation will degrade further with every new high-visitation project approved as more tourism and the hospitality workforce to support that tourism will be required to travel up and down our roads.
Our infrastructure and roadways will simply have to expand if we continue to accommodate a heavy-visitation tourism-based economy and the traffic increases brought on by continued approval of winery and hospitality endeavors.
This infrastructure and roadway expansion will create a further and rapid urbanization of Napa Valley/County, put intense pressure on our Agricultural Preserve as well as a threat to the rural character, community fabric and quality of life in Napa County/Valley.
This will be urbanization by over-visitation, the Napa Valley and Napa County will be transformed by the necessary roadway and infrastructure increases to accommodate the increased visitation currently promoted.
While this may seem unthinkable to those who love and care about the rural character of Napa Valley/County, our towns and of protecting our growing/farming lands, it is clear that If we continue adding heavy visitation-oriented development our current two-lane roads or “feeder arteries” will be stressed to the breaking point, and our Ag Preserve/growing lands will get further paved over to accommodate this visitation/ hospitality/marketing aspect.
We must also consider the effects on our precious grapegrowing microclimate of thousands of slow-moving cars and trucks idling in our narrow valley, as well as water limitations.
There are more than 55 new and expansion projects in the county pipeline waiting for approval. Is this urbanization the future we want for Napa Valley and Napa County? We must stop now and analyze the cumulative impacts of current development before we allow more. We must analyze the carrying capacity of our roads, infrastructure and water availability in relation to the health, welfare and safety of our citizens and community.
The time to stand up is now for those that believe in our Ag Preserve as a growing/farming region, for those that wish to protect our communities and the rural nature of our county, We must find the common ground upon which to stand together now.
Please contact all county Supervisors and Planning Commissioners at countyofnapa.org; write letters to our newspapers, and become involved with groups such as the Napa Vision 2050 coalition,
Sooner is better.
Ellsworth lives in St. Helena, and is a member of the Napa Vision 2050 coalition.