College Avenue will be widened under Highway 101 following an agreement struck between Santa Rosa and the state Department of Transportation.
The work, expected to begin in October, will add new lanes for cars and bicycles to improve the traffic flow and safety of the underpass between Cleveland Avenue and Morgan Street.
The project will include a second westbound travel lane for vehicles and a second lane for eastbound vehicles turning north onto the Highway 101 onramp. In addition, there will be bicycle lanes in both directions and upgraded sidewalks with pedestrian ramps.
The project was originally intended to be done in 2005 as part of the highway widening effort, which added high-occupancy vehicle lanes to the freeway between Highway 12 and Steele Lane.
Intersections including Steele Lane were upgraded as part of that project, but the College Avenue portion was delayed for lack of funds, according to Clay Thistle, an associate civil engineer in the city's Transportation and Public Works Department.
The state funds now exist for the $6.7 million project to go forward. The city agreed to contribute $330,000.
Council members raised questions about whether there would be sufficient lighting under the freeway or artwork to encourage people to use it. Thistle said there is some lighting already under the overpass, but no current plans for artwork.
They also inquired about whether there were plans to link the new bicycle lanes in this project to other areas.
Councilman Gary Wysocky asked if it would be possible to link a future multi-use path along the railroad with Morgan Street and nearby Santa Rosa High School. There are no active plans currently, said Rick Moshier, the city's director of transportation and public works. But it might make sense to prioritize such a project in the future, he said.
"There would be some logic behind that," Moshier said.