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Novato Narrows Of Highway 101 Slow To See New Carpool Lanes

NOVATO (KPIX 5) – The Novato Narrows is a painful stretch of road for drivers and it's felt like an endless construction project.

Crews have been working to expand U.S. Highway 101 between Marin and Sonoma counties, creating 17 miles of continuous carpool lanes.

If it feels like a long time coming, you'd be right.

But by the end of next year there will be big changes to parts of the backlogged Novato Narrows and you can see it taking shape.

Transportation Authority of Marin project manager Nick Nguyen said, "The actual project started about ten years ago, but right now were about halfway through and we're actually quite proud of that."

And that's because it hasn't been an easy road.

Once completed, the project will widen the highway, raise a portion of it out of the San Antonio Creek flood plain and straighten some of the curves.

It has cost more than $400 million so far and has an estimated ten more years to go.

The hold up is -- and could continue to be -- cash flow.

"Right now we actually don't have enough funds to complete the design phase on the phase two project and so we're still awaiting other infusions of monies to not only finish the design, but then to start the construction of the projects themselves," Nguyen said.

The Transportation Authority of Marin hopes that Senate Bill 1, in conjunction with MTC funds, will come through in its favor.

There is also the possibility of an increased Marin County sales tax that could supplement any financial shortfalls.

"Because it's such a large project, right now the federal government and the state government certainly are not providing the funds support that they used to and so now it really boils down to the locals taking care of themselves," Nguyen said.

But transportation officials say they are first looking to those state funds, but there's a big battle over that money because a lot of work needs to be done across California.

Every single county in the state has representatives in Sacramento hoping to get some of that money.


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