San Rafael Planning Commission meeting on Nov
-- see at the 58th minute a Traffic Analysis of moving
the Bus Transit Center (Start at the 40th minute for the
build to Larkspur).
At one hour and 11 mins. they say that there will be a further delay of 15
seconds at major intersections yet they are woefully ignorant of the SMART
Schedule. Planning, Staff and
DPW think there is a
train every half hour when in fact there is one
every 15 minutes ! A SMART Crossing goes from red to green in about 1
minute and 10 seconds. Then it takes about a minute for traffic to get back
to "normal" speed, so SMART will stop commuter traffic
on 2nd and 3rd Streets for about 1.5 minutes every 15
That's the equivalent of increasing commuter
Traffic Congestion by 10%
And includes more backup onto the freeway for 30,000+ commuters to/from
North Marin and Sonoma. ( The good news is that the SMART system talks to
the downtown traffic light system.)
That 1.5 minutes doesn't include the huge impact on
Traffic Light SEQUENCING . SMART isn't going change its schedule to
accommodate our Traffic light SEQUENCING
(without which there would be so much more congestion).
Is it time for the
San Rafael Council to take a step backwards and
determine who they are representing ? SMART or the people of San Rafael?
Clearly the increase in Traffic Congestion from SMART is the biggest issue
on their plate ( making Homelessness pale into relative insignificance).
In a year's time thousands of residents will be complaining bitterly as they
struggle every day to get to work and get home.
SMART is insisting that San Rafael pay for the crossing at Anderson Drive (
because of past road construction which ignored the tracks) .
Golden Gate needs to get an ENCROACHMENT PERMIT from San Rafael (and some
Eminent Domain) to implement the $3.5 interim change to the Transit Center
when SMART splits it in two.
Should San Rafael adopt a stance of NO COOPERATION
and delay this disaster for as long as possible?
Is that not BY FAR in the best interests of their constituents?
Read Richard Hall in the
IJ:- "Is SMART leading San Rafael’s City
"In transportation, nothing is forever," said Steve
Kinsey when in 2011 the
was Ignored. (Back in In 2008, after weeks of wrangling between
leaders of SMART and the Transportation Authority of
Marin, the rail agency promised it would not compete with the
transportation authority for state and federal funds.
Kinsey and others ignored it just 3 years later .)
SMART-to-Larkspur is going to severely congest 2nd, 3rd and HWY101 traffic.
It should not be managed by someone who would
lose face for having been the principle advocate of this disruption --
Part of the
Kinsey email sent in 2002 follows. In it he
admits how EXPRESS
BUS would be more cost effective than SMART. But did we hear from him
anything other than recommendations for SMART since ?
" in 1999-2000, MTC evaluated a wide range of transit alternatives, and
issued a document we called our “Blueprint for the 21st Century”. In it,
express bus service on upgraded HOV lanes was identified as the most cost
effective expansion in the 101 corridor through Marin and Sonoma.
Almost before the ink was dry on that report, the Governor produced his
Traffic Congestion Relief Plan(TCRP) which funded SMART in the northbay"
Kinsey’s new job a sign of the revolving door..
||Based on what
currently looks like the preferred location for the new
Bus Transit Center, if they had planned this
before they would have located the SMART Train Station
at a totally different location for it to be adjacent to this new Bus
||There will be 2
sets of train tracks all the way from the San Rafael Station to Anderson
Drive. Possibly used to park trains overnight for the morning northbound? (
as well as for train bypassing)
The train will go no more than 15 miles per hour at the Anderson crossing (
it crosses on a diagonal).
CUTTER traffic lights stop vehicles well before they get to the tracks ( a
no-mans-land for vehicles ).
All paid for by the City ( with Federal grant they say)
SMART has refused to fund the necessary move of the San
Rafael TRANSIT CENTER ( and the PATHWAY
along its tracks to Larkspur). And now they say
they are going to proceed with construction of the track to
Larkspur in 2017 !
SMART threatens that if the pathway from 2nd Street
to Anderson Drive is not constructed, at the same
time as the tracks, it will be considerably more expensive (at the same time
they refuse to fund it themselves).
SMART is planning to reconstruct and utilize the current right-of-way which
runs through the middle of the San Rafael Transit
Center. This will start in the spring or summer of 2017 through 2018.
SMART’s right-of-way will be fenced off and will
therefore restrict access by busses and pedestrians,
cutting the San Rafael Transit Center in half.
Modifications to current bus movements within the Center
will be needed. Kimley-Horn has worked closely with all agencies to develop
solutions that allow continuation of bus service.
Both the Transit Center move and the
Pathway should have already been included in
SMART's plans 2005-2008 which was presented to the voters.
The Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) is
scurrying to find funding for these projects ( see Kinsey say that the new
Transit Center could cost $30-$40 million in the video on
http://www.tam.ca.gov/index.aspx?page=185 July 28 meeting, near the
end). By doing this they are enabling SMART's renege.
Evaluation Considerations include "Does the project
reduce congestion in Marin?"
But provides no details on how this is achieved.
In fact, it turns out that SMART will :-
- take no more than 79 cars off Hwy 101 per commute
- stop traffic on 2nd and 3rd street every 15 minutes (causing a huge
backup both directions and onto the freeway)
- have few to zero spaces available for its riders on the
At this point there is enough information available to say that
SMART from San Rafael to Larkspur will produce much more
"congestion in SR AND Marin", far more than taking 79 cars off 39 miles
of the freeway and it would be beneficial to the people
of Marin to delay this for as long as possible.
We need a detailed analysis from the Transit Authourity of Marin (TAM)
of the net "traffic congestion" that this SMART extension will produce!
Any lawyers out there willing to
file an INJUNCTION on the known facts
that this will induce a net INCREASE IN TRAFFIC CONGESTION ? (even after the
Center is moved). Note this includes the 20,000+ Sonomans, Commuting to
or through San Rafael, affected by backup onto the freeway, from stopped traffic
on 2nd and 3rd streets. ( or is it more like 40,000+ ?)
Minimum of 5 years till new
San Rafael Transit Center Nov 17th 2016
The transit center in downtown San Rafael will have to be split soon so
SMART trains can pass through it en route to Larkspur as soon as 2018.
The big changes will come as Golden Gate Bridge
district officials make plans to move the entire center in as soon as
It was the district that gave Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit a right of
way through the center, so the disruption is not a complete surprise.
Officials at the district, which runs buses in and out of the transit
center, initially planned to study the center’s future and where it might be
located as SMART came online.
But last December SMART officials announced
the agency was in line to receive funding to extend the commuter rail
service to Larkspur, which includes going through the transit center. With
construction of commuter train service to Larkspur starting as soon as
COMPLETE COVERAGE >> SMART TRAIN
“When the study was originally conceived we thought the SMART extension
to Larkspur would be several years in the future,” Ron Downing, director of
planning for the district, told the
Transportation Committee . “The study changed
course when we realized that extension would be happening a lot sooner.”
Construction will include new tracks, barriers and crossing arms. The
rail line will go through Platform C, eliminating bus stops, meaning
passengers will be picked up on adjacent streets
instead. The Marin Airporter will pick
up its passengers on Fourth Street under Highway 101,
a block from the transit center. Cijos Street
also will undergo improvements so it can better accommodate bus traffic.
Those changes will be permanent even after SMART finishes putting track
through the transit center. That’s because the rail line will have to be
sectioned off by concrete so pedestrians can’t cross tracks, limiting access
to buses at the center. Presently, pedestrians can go from platform to
platform without restriction.
The modifications are expected to cost about
$3.5 million, money provided by the
Metropolitan Transportation Commission that was
intended to be used for an abandoned ferry project at Port Sonoma.
The transit center — known as the C. Paul Bettini Transit Center for a
former mayor — opened in 1991 and is used by 9,000 people daily.
The bridge district eventually wants to build a new transit center in the
same area. Committee members Thursday discussed three
sites, including using the existing site between Second and Third
streets and land between Third and Fourth streets. A second option would use
land between Third and Fourth streets and Fourth Street and Fifth Avenue,
where Citibank and House
of Bagels are now. A new site will likely involve
buying property that currently houses buildings.
Another possible site would stretch from Fourth Street to Mission Avenue.
That design would close Fifth Avenue to vehicle
traffic at the SMART train tracks, which has sparked concern from San Rafael
officials who note downtown is already congested.
A new transit center would cost between $32 million and
$42 million, according to preliminary
estimates, and could be funded by federal grants. Housing on top of a new
transit center also could be part of the mix, officials said.
Passengers will have to live with the new alignments at the existing
transit center for the near future, officials said.
“A new transit center is at least five years away,” said Denis Mulligan,
bridge district general manager.
With SMART anticipating extending their services to Larkspur, Kimley-Horn
also developed conceptual alternatives to provide a more permanent long-term
transit center solution. The alternatives Kimley- Horn developed would
either modify the current Bettini Center or
use the city blocks north of the current center to house the permanent
location. Kimley-Horn Associates, and the working
group which was composed of staff from all agencies listed above, worked
diligently to identify more than 10 solutions for a permanent relocation
site. These alternatives were evaluated and now
three solutions remain. Each of these, along with their
advantages and disadvantages, will be addressed in the presentation.
Upon completion of Kimley-Horn’s report, it is our understanding that the
transit agencies will move forward with the environmental analysis and
public input process to identify the preferred solution and then begin
design work for the selected alternative.
Funding has been identified to construct the interim solution and the
initial environmental and design work for the permanent project. Additional
design money, right of way acquisition funding, and
construction funding have not yet been assembled for the permanent transit center.
Federation of San Rafael Neighborhoods Meeting Notes
Wednesday, September 21, 2016 Jackson Cafe, 930 Tamalpais Ave., San Rafael, CA
A Panel of City and County officials, Non-profit, and Neighborhoods Leaders
San Rafael Station Area, Transit Hub, and Gateway to San Rafael
Panel: Mayor Phillips, SMART Board, City Subcommittees; Damon Connolly,' Marin
County Supervisor District 1; Katie Rice, Marin County Supervisor District 2;
Danielle O'Leary, San Rafael Department
of Economic Development; Rebecca Woodbury, San Rafael Senior Analyst; Kate
Powers, President, Marin Conservation League; Bill Carney, President,
Sustainable San Rafael; Cynthia Landecker, President, San Rafael Heritage; Jim
Elias, Executive Director, Marin County Bicycle Coalition; Ron Downing, Director
of Planning, Golden Gate Transit; Jeff Rhoads, Friends of SMART; Tim Gilbert,
BPAC San Rafael Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee; Kay Karchevski,
Lincoln/San Rafael Hill Neighborhood Association; Mia Berndt, Friends of the
Canal; Bonnie Marmor, Point San Pedro Road Coalition; Moderator, Amy Likover,
Interim President, Federation of San Rafael Neighborhoods
intros and framework of forum goals by panel and Amy Likover, Interim President
The panel's discussion was lead by the foundational question:
What vision do each of you have to guide the very real decisions now being made
in the Downtown Station Area,
the future of the new transit center, the old train depot, our commercial
crossroads, area creeks and pathways
The Federation's goals for this gateway location include:
Efficient flow of traffic from the 101
freeway and on city streets
Safe pathways for pedestrians and cyclists
traveling all directions
An appealing, aesthetic, and welcoming
Respect for our City's natural setting and
of Station Area
86 year old father be able to cross the street at
3rd and Hetherton
Kids able to walk and ride bikes safely to
Davidson Middle School from Lincoln, Montecito and Canal Neighborhoods.
Mahon Creek included as opportunity for
water-based planning in conjunction with transportation planning, including
run-off to Bay
Create a world-class gateway to San
Rafael. Addressing pedestrians safety, poor and increasingly bad traffic
Visionary solutions through brave
community dialogue, coordination of agencies
SMART service rolled out in positive
way, making sure it's extended to Larkspur; good solution for Bettini Transit
Center, with multi-use bike path completed concurrently
Whistlestop location/historic Depot
building as hub for train/bus/bike/pedestrian center and gateway to downtown
Not causing degradation for transit
users (9,000 per day) or making their commute longer or more
challenging-conversely, make it more efficient and pleasant
Long-term solution for Bettini Center
versus interim solution with buses on surface streets, etc.
Transit Center as an asset, world-class
vibrant urban downtown, community embracing personal habits for vehicle use
and safety for multi-modal sharing of roadways.
BPAC seeks input for their 5-year
update for San Rafael's Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan, addressing how to
make a car dominated environment more walker and bike friendly
Station Area is recreated as San
Rafael's front porch: walkable, welcoming; a place to stop, gather
& enjoy; including a transit center that's integrated
in a comprehensive and contributing way with its surroundings, not just one
with adequate turning radiuses
A car-free 4th St. for buses & transit only (not
past Lincoln) with transit shuttles frequent from cross-town to West End
Access to waterways (Petaluma example)
integrating overnight boaters AND flood mitigation (Canal area mentioned)
Embrace San Rafael's ready access to
water: a destination (referenced the Great Baths history), Mahon Creek could
be restored, culverts should maintained, and there should be dredging/mud
removal, storm drains would function better
Storm water turned to rain garden;
filtering provides improved flood control
Unique characteristic of location is
confluence of Mahon Creek, San Rafael Creek and Canal; our transportation
cross-roads derives from this natural system, which could be celebrated as a
centerpiece of the station area "front yard;" providing a sense of place &
connection to nature, expressed in Downtown.
Outlying areas are concerned with not being able
to reach Downtown or freeway in reasonable amount of time; need community
conversations and balance for neighborhoods as stakeholders in the transit
Embracing "city-ness" of San Rafael as hub of
County, employment and retail center, potentially an entertainment and
residential center, for seniors and "Millennials"
Need realistic traffic planning, improved
circulation for East/West thru to Ross Valley and alternatives from short-cut
routes like Sir Frances Drake and Wolf Grade, etc.
Perhaps locate Transit Center not in midst of
high-pressure area but downstream a bit (Larkspur Ferry?) or with satellite
stops to match end-uses and multi-mode connections; too much in one spot
Elevate railroad through central San Rafael with
green space below to eliminate traffic conflicts and enhance quality of life
and multi-modal transportation, promote walking &
biking, wetlands, wetland trails and improve watershed
Local transit connections (Marin Transit) and
multi-use path Downtown to Larkspur
Depending on transit center location, relock at
configuration of 2nd and 3rd
multi-lane one-way corridors; reconsider one-way "couplet" for safety issues;
locate transit north of 3rd St. to eliminate bus to
train user crossings and improve safety and circulation
Locate primary bike &
pedestrian crossings of 2nd
and 3rd St. at Tamalpais West,
identify these intersections with special paving, signalization, etc., and
connecting the transit center to the North-South Greenway multi-use path
between 2nd and Andersen;
establish similar pedestrian crossings at Lincoln, Lindaro, and B streets,
creating clear multi-use zones away from Hetherton
Safety-driven project that is beautiful, promotes
economic vitality and is attractive
Pleasant, safe area to walk through, with clear
way finding and ease of walking to end destination, good experience
Vision of San Rafael as a destination with
sidewalks, plazas, pocket parks, community connection, economic vitality,
restored creek, pedestrian connection for East and West San Rafael, exchange
transit modes elsewhere
Eliminate blight on CalTrans property (chain link,
litter & weeds)
"Natural areas improve people's behavior;" cities
benefit from natural spaces. (Jim Elias)
Downtown Station Area Plan from 2012 (available on
Community Development page of City's website) contains many of the concepts
mentioned here for bike & pedestrian circulation,
gathering space, economic vitality and green space; it includes transit center
relocation ideas and diagram of Bettini block showing apartments with train
Bridge over Canal, enlivened waterways, safe route
for commuters and students
Transit (Bettini) specific comments:
Comment that the Transit Center may be
the biggest challenge facing San Rafael now
Comment (by Mayor) that the Transit
Center may cost about $30
Million and involves multiple agencies
Golden Gate Transit, Marin Transit, and the City); looking at
several options- 2nd to 4th; 3rd
to 5th; 4th
use transit center in Bay Area (9,000 people/day)
Ideas have included buses on surface
streets as interim plan
Closing 5th Street is among the options,
but not promising
Consider closing 4th St. to cars, allowing trollies/shuttles and cross
Treat both sides of Tamalpais (east and
west of tracks) as "found commons," with consistent street trees, landscaping,
streetscape and facade guidelines, creating a greenway
Perils of closing 5th St. given Mission bottleneck of train crossing making
traffic worse there
(Mayor) Could see affordable housing
over Transit Center or on existing Bettini site (3-4 levels)
Challenge of getting the flow of
traffic and the train crossing through town to work with bus turning patterns
Address parking and other needs for
ridership going north in transit center plans.
Tamalpais as a North-South linear
Greenway, urban open space
Natural & historic connection to rail
preserved as part of Station Area. Many cities preserve their historic depot
buildings (Mission revival design) and integrate them into the urban
Other: Art, seats, trees, bio-swales,
urban forest and livability, urban design, human scale retail, place,
Create a greenway on both sides of
the SMART track. Trees, art, public meeting places, new cafes announce and
celebrate the City's new neighbor, the train. Could even be pedestrian
streets. A real bonus to new SR economic vitality. It's ingenious to bring
nature to a street named "Tamalpais."
Create a greenway with indigenous
plants along the multi-purpose paths. Link up with Tamalpais and creek
greenways for an "emerald necklace" effect?
Feature San Rafael's genesis to
the local waterways with a cleaned up San Rafael Creek & Mahon Creek.
Native plantings to absorb water continue the "greenway concept.
CalTrans cleans up properties near
freeway, to make them natural and welcoming.
Rethink the high-speed arteries
2nd & 3rd St and look at 101 on/off ramps for
their slowdowns. Restriping to allow 2 lanes? Is there a better way to
move the traffic? Are rotaries possible at Montecito? Alternative routing?
Should Mission St. be one-way East or Westbound to loosen up backups on
track? Pedestrian crossings?
Showcase the historic SR Station
Depot building. Make it our "Ferry Building." Whistlestop continues
ownership, and could possibly host "World-Class" high profit concessions
in the building: top notch Marin cuisine restaurant upstairs, first-rate
espresso bar downstairs w senior discounts etc.
Build a smaller matching
"Mission-revival style building" where the Bettini Transit Center sits to
create a welcome balance to that site. Could be the transit information
Consider density, pollution, light
and noise first before planning housing on site
Educate drivers to be attentive.
[Post motorcycle cops at all 4 corners of the Station Area to cite bad
drivers? This would send a message to all that the station area is
off-limits to reckless driving.
Remember Jim Elias' words of
wisdom from MCBC's Jim Elias, "In natural settings people behave better."
Respectfully submitted, Tymber Cavasian,
FSRN; September 29, 2016 Bill Carney
Edits by Amy Likover FSRN