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Petaluma Highway 101 bottleneck to get worse before getting better

  • Traffic speeds over the Petaluma Boulevard South Interchange bridge on Monday, April 1, 2013. The bridge will under go renovations with the northbound State Route 116 bridge being replaced and the southbound bridge widened. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

The historically congested stretch of Highway 101 south of Petaluma is primed for work that eventually will widen the corridor and provide relief for what is known as the Novato Narrows bottleneck.

But don't get too excited, drivers.

The $120 million project, which really is two projects at once, will take three years and include temporary lane closures that at times will squeeze traffic to one lane in each direction.

And even when construction is done, the carpool lanes won't exist. Funding for them isn't yet available.

Still, at a groundbreaking ceremony Monday in Petaluma, local officials and transportation experts said starting work on the two projects is a huge step forward in the long-term widening of 101 from Windsor to Novato.

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