Commuting from Sonoma/Napa to the East Bay
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Hi, looking for folks with experience commuting from the North Bay (like Petaluma/Rohnert Park) to the Richmond area. We are thinking about buying a home there, but our job is here in the East Bay and won't be changing anytime soon. anon
If you're commuting at normal commute hours, you do not want to do it from Petaluma/Rohnert Park south. 101 is a parking lot in many places. I work in San Rafael and have coworkers who come from up there - it takes them an hour frequently (when without traffic it should be a half-hour or less) and then you'd have another 10-20 minutes to Richmond from SR! Ugh. There are back roads to take, but they are winding and who wants to do that every day? You might be able to go across 37 to Vallejo, but then you brave the Carquinez Bridge/I-80 traffic at commute hour. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but unless you're working from home most days it is not worth it. Alexandra
Hi! I used to commute San Rafael to the Richmond/El Sobrante area, generally during somewhat off-peak travel times. Generally, I found it a pleasant route relatively free of stop-and go. There are a few caveats.
I am not sure what the Petaluma-San Rafael stretch would be like in the am; you could check 511.org online, it is updated in real time.
Once you switch from 101S to 580E in San Rafael, traffic is generally good. However, if accident or high-winds cause a bridge closure, then traffic grinds to a complete halt. It doesn't happen often but it does happen. During those times my only option was to take 101 north to 37/Sears Raceway and skirt the north rim of the Bay, then connect to the Eastshore Freeway via the Carquinez Bridge. That's a good alternative route for your location.
But usually, once in the East Bay, I exited 580 and took the Richmond Parkway to connect to I-80. My other route was to drive 580 south all the way to Central Blvd, exit and then connect to the I-80, much further south. I personally would not drive any other routes through Richmond that involved going on city streets (I lived in LA and I've driven through lots of gang neighborhoods, but Richmond really scares me.)
For me, the worst part (580W to 101N) was the return, if it happened around sunset. I'm very light-sensitive and the drive west you are headed almost directly towards the sun. Once you connect to 101N, traffic can jam up, especially around central San Rafael and then again north of Novato, where the traffic lanes go from 3 to 2 (it's called ''The Narrows''). If that happens, you can always take ''the back route'' via the Petalum/Point Reyes road.
It's not a short commute, but it does takes you through some lovely country. --Hope It Works Out