What do we mean by “Don’t Break Drake?"
Under the direction of District 2 Supervisor Katie Rice, Marin County is pursuing a “rehabilitation plan” for Sir Francis Drake Boulevard between 101 and the Kentfield-Ross border. This is a $19 million project that will take at least two years to finish, including complete repaving.
The stated objective is improving traffic flow. But the plan’s elements
say otherwise. Consider these features:
Narrower vehicle lanes, which lowers speeds
More signaled crosswalks
Squared off turning lanes
Unofficial (unmarked) bike lanes
Wider multi-use sidewalk/pathways
Ross Valley residents will endure extended construction-related traffic delays on Drake. Unfortunately the reward may be a completed project that permanently lowers vehicular speeds.
The proposed project’s bike/ped/disabled accommodations add major safety risks. There’s a new at-grade pedestrian crossing to Bacich School in a location where children were previously killed by cars. And widening sidewalks to accommodate bikes poses a big pedestrian risk.
Let’s proceed thoughtfully with this vital artery.
Don’t Break Drake!
What should the county do?
For starters, the county should patch or repave where needed; restripe to enhance turn lanes; and assign top priority to installing and
activating adaptive signal control technology (a proven congestion-relief approach that is not currently high on the county’s priority list). The county should implement a moratorium on lane closings during peak traffic hours and seasons. The county should also consider limiting oversized vehicles’ use of Drake to non-peak hours.
Any larger, more disruptive, infrastructure changes should be
considered for subsequent implementation only IF an inclusive process shows there’s broad support from affected citizens throughout Central Marin and only IF the models show such changes provide meaningful incremental congestion relief. Unless the gain’s worth the pain, Don’t Break Drake.
Why don’t you know all about this?
The project covers a section of Drake in unincorporated Marin, under
country jurisdiction. Starting in spring 2015, the county directed its
outreach almost exclusively to residents and larger businesses located
right next to Drake in Kentfield and Greenbrae. There was no proactive
engagement with any residents further upstream or in the periphery, or any of the smaller businesses. Even the city councils were in the dark.
Why is that important?
Well, if you live near or use roads like Magnolia, Bon Air, Doherty, Wolfe Grade, College, and 2nd Street and 4th Streets in San Rafael, traffic will divert from Drake to these roads – during construction and maybe permanently. Traffic congestion will also back up on Drake and Center Boulevard in San Anselmo and Fairfax.
What’s the real cause of Drake’s horrific traffic?
The outdated 101/Drake interchange, the East Bay short-cutting
commuters compressed into the one lane stretch on Drake east of 101, and our officials’ intransigence in getting the 3 rd eastbound lane open to cars on the Richmond Bridge. Until these are addressed, any congestion relief on the Drake corridor west of the 101 will be modest. Turning on the 101 metering lights on the onramp from Drake in the next couple years could make matters worse.
Who’s paying for this?
We are. $13.2 million comes from Measure A, Marin’s 2004 self-imposed transportation sales tax. That tax’s primary purpose is to
relieve traffic congestion. County officials either don’t know or aren’t
saying where the other $6 million (or more) will come from.
Is getting the needed $6+ million a problem?
It certainly could be. If the regional alphabet agencies or the state puts
up the money you can bet it will come with strings attached in the form of high-density housing requirements.
What can I do about this?
This project should not move forward without a bona-fide public inclusion process involving all the affected Central Marin neighborhoods and jurisdictions.
To demand an inclusive process that sets the priorities of the broad local community, sign our online petition.
Contact your supervisor now and demand inclusion. Don’t let them
confuse their notion of “outreach” with actual “inclusion”. The former
denotes meetings where you’re told what’s going to happen. The latter
involves citizen input that’s seriously taken into consideration.
Demand that an inclusive process – which gives you the opportunity to
weigh in on the project’s priorities, features, and impacts – occur before the project is advanced to Environmental Impact Review. Once the “preferred alternative”, which has never yet been presented at any
public forum, advances to EIR, it’s unlikely that citizen input will result
in substantive changes.
To magnify your impact, consider sharing any letter to your supervisor
with friends via social media, or post it on MarinPost.org. You can also
send a copy for the record to (it will remain
confidential unless you say you want it shared it with others).
Want to Get Involved with “DontBreakDrake”?
Concerned Ross Valley residents who pay attention to what our local
government is up to discovered a big pending construction project on
Drake was in the works but largely under the radar. If you’d like to help
get the word out and to lobby for more effective, safer, solutions on