Recent rains prompt ongoing road closures, repairs

NOVATO (KTVU) -- The recent wet weather that soaked the Bay Area last week has resulted in the closure of some roads as flood waters slowly recede.

One trouble spot is the westbound lanes of Highway 37 where it meets Highway 101 in Novato, an intersection that has been closed to motorists for six days. Nearby residents fear the traffic back-up will worsen when motorists resume their usual commute after observing the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Some motorists are turning to Atherton Avenue and other nearby rural roads that were not intended to accommodate daily, heavy vehicle traffic in order to access the 101 freeway.

The freeway lanes are dry but pumping operations to remove water from the roadway median and shoulder continue.

And as a result, drivers have run into lengthy delays.

"We took a little stop off here because my son was getting fussy after being in traffic for the last half-an-hour," said Marshall Villarosa, who lives in San Francisco.

Residents said they hope Caltrans can implement a long-term solution so that construction projects that span several days won't impact traffic too much.

"We just came back from Tahoe and we just thought we could take the detour and it wouldn't be too bad," he said. "So, it's obviously a lot worse than we thought."

Another major ongoing traffic issue is in Pacifica, where repair crews spent the MLK holiday working to repair a 15-foot deep sinkhole that is 40 feet wide.

The estimate to repair the sinkhole is expected to take six weeks. But, with more wet weather on the way, that could alter the repair schedule.

One neighbor said the city might have missed a chance for a permanent fix when the hole first formed a year ago.

"It formed last year and they poured a bunch of concrete in there and then we didn't have much rain after that," said Jeannie Menger, who lives in Pacifica. "So, it wasn't evident what the concrete pouring, what water would do."

The sinkhole repairs held during the summer months but reformed during the area's recent wet weather.

"I would think that excavating like they're doing now with the backhoe would have been a smart idea because you have a broken pipe," Menger said.

The sinkhole is several hundred feet inland and not near the coast.

By KTVU reporter Tom Vacar.