Sonoma Raceway to stop commute cheaters

Posted on November 18, 2013 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Weeknight commuters heading to Vallejo soon won’t be able to cheat ahead of Highway 37 traffic by using a U-turn trick at Sonoma Raceway.

The track sits at the intersection of one of the most cramped sections of highway in Northern California, state routes 37 and 121, where Solano County-bound traffic squeezes from two lanes to one.

To bypass some of the congestion, many commuters are tempted 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.

To curb the problem, Sonoma Raceway will install 600-feet of concrete barrier from the highway to its main entrance gate. The new wall makes the commute cheating U-turn impossible, as only official raceway visitors will be allowed past the gate.

The driveway changes are being installed and will be fully in place by December 2.

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, according to Diana Brennan of Sonoma Raceway. Most weeknights, commuter traffic on Highway 37 stretches for more than five miles west toward Novato.

“I can empathize with the commuters who are faced with these intolerable backups on Highway 37,” 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.”

CHP officers will also heavily patrol the area to prevent illegal U-turns on the highway itself.

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