By Craig S. Harrison
President, Save Our Sonoma Roads
The Board of Supervisors recently funded road improvements throughout Sonoma County, including three projects in Bennett Valley. In late May, it approved two groups of proposed projects submitted by the Sonoma County Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW). One group is for its pavement preservation program, and a second group is infrastructure projects using some of the County’s $149 million in settlement funds for its fire damage claims against Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E).
DTPW’s pavement preservation program will spend $37 million to fix 43 miles on 50 roads during the 2022 and 2023 construction seasons. These projects include a half mile on Crane Canyon Road between Inverness Avenue and Petaluma Hill Road, and 1.6 miles of Bennett Valley Road extending east from Grange Road to about 6600 Bennett Valley Road. The complete list of the first group of projects, listed alphabetically by road name, location, proposed treatments (which may change), cost, and other information can be seen here. Note that only portions of most listed roads are planned for pavement improvement, not the entire lengths of the roads.
The two pavement preservation program projects in Bennett Valley will employ new asphalt concrete overlays that place a large amount of new asphalt and concrete on top of the damaged surface. Asphalt concrete overlays are more expensive than chip seals (fine aggregate rock sprayed with a layer of oil), but provide much longer-lasting road surfaces. When these projects are included, Grange Road-Crane Canyon Road (3.7 miles from Petaluma Hill Road to Bennett Valley Road) and Bennett Valley Road (7.5 miles from Warm Springs Road to the Santa Rosa city limit) will be in excellent condition. We have come a very long way since 2011, when SOSroads was formed and began advocating for road improvements.
With regard to the second group of projects, DTPW will also spend $20 million of PG&E settlement funds for “generational” investments in the County’s transportation infrastructure. The map for the second group includes $700,000 for road improvements on Sonoma Mountain Road during the next 5 years. Residents should remain engaged in the planning for this project to ensure that the portions of the road that are in dreadful condition are improved as soon as possible.