New overpass a key part of airport area's makeover

  • Ornelas German from MCM Construction, Inc. works to finish the slope paving on the new Airport Blvd overpass in Santa Rosa, on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Construction crews Tuesday put the finishing touches on a new five-lane Airport Boulevard overpass at Highway 101, which was scheduled to open in time for the Wednesday morning commute.

A new northbound onramp was also scheduled to open overnight, as well as a new left turn lane from the southbound offramp.

The debut of the north Santa Rosa overpass is a milestone in the $51 million project, which is helping reshape the transportation landscape in the booming area between Santa Rosa and Windsor.

"The project's improvements will reduce travel delay, decrease congestion, improve operational clarity and efficiency, and improve traffic flow on local streets at the Airport Boulevard interchange and on Highway 101," said Caltrans spokesman Allyn Amsk. "The overall goal is to create one full interchange instead of two partial interchanges at Airport Boulevard and Fulton Road."

Construction is expected to continue until the end of the year. Eventually, the Fulton Road interchange, which is less than a half-mile from the Airport Boulevard interchange, will be eliminated.

Crews still need to demolish the old two-lane overpass and complete a new northbound offramp.

The new interchange is one of a handful of road, rail and air transportation projects in the area that is home to Airport Business Center and more than 5,000 jobs.

Caltrans plans to build a park-and-ride at the interchange to help commuters who carpool to work.

Airport Boulevard west of Highway 101 is scheduled for a makeover. The Sonoma County Transportation Authority, using state, federal and local Measure M sales tax money, plans to widen the street to five lanes between Ordinance Road and Aviation Boulevard.

Other phases include connecting Laughlin Road and Brickway Boulevard and building a new bridge over Mark West Creek to provide a southern entrance to the airport industrial area. Construction could start in 2016.

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