County's Traffic Plan

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County unveils plan for reducing traffic

By Mark Prado
Marin County officials have crafted a 25-year, $1.5 billion plan to attack one of Marin's most vexing problems: traffic.

The county's Congestion Management Agency has released "Moving Forward: A Transportation Vision for Marin County," a review of studies on various modes of transportation: cars, buses, trains, ferries, bicycles and walking.

The upshot: It will take $1.5 billion to complete a wide-ranging program to improve congestion around the county. The problem: existing money can cover $367 million, leaving a gap of more than $1.1 billion over the next 25 years.

The draft plan does address ways additional money can be raised, primarily with a county sales tax, although state and federal funding would be part of the mix as well.

"This plan is a working tool intended to be distributed broadly within the community leading to our first-ever comprehensive transportation planning strategy," said Supervisor Steve Kinsey, chairman of the CMA. "It brings all the (transportation) studies together into one document and lays out a financial blueprint on how to move forward in a prioritized way."

County officials say planning is key.

Studies show the number of times people hop in their cars will approach 1 million a year by 2020, far outpacing job and population growth.

The bottom line is Marin residents are on the move, going to work, to school, shopping and getting together with friends and family and improvements are needed to avoid massive gridlock.

Among some of the report's conclusions:
  • A commuter rail service could carry more than 5,000 daily riders.
  • The Novato Narrows widening project would allow for faster express bus service.
  • Added ferry service will be beneficial if linked with rail service.
  • Improvements to local bus and shuttle service are key in linking different modes of transportation.
  • Bike and pedestrian facilities improvements could increase trips by 20 percent. 

The report concludes no one form of transportation will provide an answer to congestion problems; it will take a combination of freeway projects and additional bus service, ferry runs, bike and pedestrian paths to ease traffic.

The public will be able to comment on the draft plan before a final report is issued, Kinsey said.

"This will generate a public dialogue," Supervisor Annette Rose said. "We have done a lot of work in a lot of areas and now it's time to look at all of them together. It's a multi-modal plan that should make it easier for all of us to get around in Marin."