Sonoma Raceway Implementing Driveway Change to Curb Commute Risks
Sonoma Raceway will put the safety of its employees, tenants, customers and local drivers front and center as the facility makes a significant change to its highly-trafficked entrance on Highway 121.
The popular motorsports destination sits at the intersection of one of the most bottle-necked sections of highway in Northern California, state routes 37 and 121, where Solano County-bound traffic squeezes from two lanes to one. Most weeknights, commuter traffic on Highway 37 stretches for more than five miles west toward Novato. In order to short-cut the merge congestion, many commuters elect to turn north onto Highway 121, make a U-turn in the raceway's Gate 1 driveway and then cut to the front of the slow-moving line of eastbound traffic.
The number of u-turns on raceway property has increased dramatically over the past year, and poses a danger to drivers entering, exiting and driving by the facility. Sonoma Raceway has nearly 70 full-time employees, plus more than 350 workers in its motorsports industrial park and a varying number of daily customers, most of whom are exiting the raceway during those commute hours.
"I can empathize with the commuters who are faced with these intolerable backups on Highway 37. They’re tired, they’re frustrated and they want to be home with their families," said Steve Page, president and general manager of Sonoma Raceway. “However, that frustration is translating into increasingly risky behavior behind the wheel to the point where we and the Highway Patrol have agreed we need to take preventative action.”
To curb the problem, Sonoma Raceway will install 600-feet of concrete barrier from the highway to its main entrance gate, which will force all entrants to sign a waiver with the raceway guard and pass through the gate before turning around and returning to the highway. California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers will also heavily patrol the area to prevent illegal U-turns on the highway itself.
The raceway has worked with the CHP to help address this increasing hazard to all drivers on Highway 121.
“We are happy to partner with Sonoma Raceway on this project, and look forward to improving the safety for drivers on this stretch of roadway,” said CHP Public Information Officer Anna Paulson. “Safety and efficiency for drivers is our top priority, and this fit squarely within those efforts.”
The driveway changes at Sonoma Raceway are currently being installed and will be fully in place by Monday, Dec. 2. The raceway hopes to spread the word of this change in advance to avoid additional traffic and confusion for commuters.
For more information about this change, please call 800-870-RACE (7223)