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There's Not Only Light At The End of The Tunnel...

Posted: 2011-03-25

The one-mile long Cal Park Hill Tunnel Rehabilitation and Multi-Use Pathway project, including the 1,100-foot tunnel and new bridge over Auburn Street, is complete and now open for business between the hours of 5am and 11pm daily.  The project was managed by the Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW) and required extensive coordination with Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART), Marin County Department of Parks and Open Space, and the cities of San Rafael and Larkspur to bring the project to fruition.  The rehabilitated tunnel, in addition to the multiuse pathway, provides for future SMART rail service to Larkspur.

The 12'-wide multiuse path portion of the tunnel, which provides a direct connection for cyclists and pedestrians to get from Andersen Drive in San Rafael to near the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, features more than just light at the end of the tunnel ... it is abundantly available inside as well, and includes interior cell phone reception, security cameras, four emergency call boxes and ventilation fans.  It also reduces cylists' travel time by 15-minutes over other existing, steeper and more circuitous routes to get between central San Rafael and Larkspur.

"The project is unique in that it is one of a very few projects in the entire Unites States where a rail tunnel shares space with a multi-use path," explains DPW's Principal Civic Engineer, Ernest Klock.  "It's the first step in a 70-mile journey, which will eventually link passenger rail service and a parallel multi-use path from Sonoma County to the Golden Gate Ferry System in Larkspur, and ultimately, to San Francisco.  The collective pride we feel having combined efforts to reduce congestion, improve air quality, and enhance sustainable resources to the community is immeasurable."

Funding for the project involved a partnership with SMART, the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM), Caltrans, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission 9MTC)>  With active participation of all the partners, the Marin County DPW delivered on the vision and long-term planning of reopening the tunnel to create the model transportation project.

A 2002 County of Marin study concluded that 800 to 1,000 daily bicycle and pedestrian users would see the light at each end of the tunnel.  Specific bicycle and pedestrian count studies are being conducted by DPW staff and will continue through summer 2011.  Since the tunnel pathway opening on December 10, 2010, the corridor has seen a 153% increase in bicyclists and 34% increase in pedestrians, even during the cold, wet winter we've experienced!

Tour the tunnel yourself and find out how easy it is to get to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal or downtown San Rafael!  The pathway is accessed on the San Rafael side along Andersen Drive @ West Francisco Boulevard, opposite Office Depot.  On the Larkspur side, access is from the Larkspur Landing movie theatre parking lot.  A separate project is currently in design which will extend the pathway south over East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to connect with the Corte madera Creek path.

For more information on the pathway, tunnel rehabilitation and future rail service, click here!


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