Work on Highway 101 interchange, water pipes, new mall creates lengthy crosstown drives

  • Motorists navigate through a series of construction projects along E Washington St in Petaluma, California, on Thursday, July 26, 2012. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Even on good traffic days, East Washington Street near Highway 101 in Petaluma is heavily congested. Sometimes making it through the intersection at McDowell Boulevard takes more than one signal cycle.

But now, in an unusual confluence of projects, drivers along one of Petaluma's busiest stretches of road have three construction projects to maneuver through to get across town.

And some are not happy about it.

"It just took me 45 minutes to get from one side of town to the other," grumbled one aggravated driver who didn't give his name.

The largest project is the Caltrans reconstruction of the East Washington interchange with Highway 101, including north- and southbound on- and offramps.

Traffic lanes leading up to the ramps are being intermittently closed or narrowed as construction vehicles and workers prepare for changes.

The work also has closed the sidewalk overpass for pedestrians and bicyclists and removed dozens of redwood trees along the freeway.

The work is causing vehicle backups on both sides of 101, creating long queues during the busy morning, lunch and evening rushes.

That work is expected to last more than a year.

Nearby, just west of 101, pavement is being torn up for grading and site work for what will be the city's largest shopping center, East Washington Place. That work could take the better part of a year.

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