Jul 30, 2014
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Larkspur, Corte Madera Still Concerned About Highway 101 Project

The public gets a good look at TAM's proposed changes to the Twin Cities Corridor.

Larkspur, Corte Madera Still Concerned About Highway 101 Project Larkspur, Corte Madera Still Concerned About Highway 101 Project Larkspur, Corte Madera Still Concerned About Highway 101 Project

The impact of the construction on Doherty Drive just outside Redwood High School could be just a preview to things to come, some fear.

The Transportation Authority of Marin and CalTrans are fine-tuning plans for construction of the Greenbrae Interchange project on Highway 101. "The purpose of the project is to reduce traffic congestion within the Greenbrae/Twin Cities Corridor by alleviating the short merging, diverging, and weaving areas along US 101," according to a message from TAM.

TAM's open house at Redwood High School showed residents its proposed changes to the current Twin Cities Corridor, a dangerous area prone to traffic jams during heavy commute hours. Pretty much everyone at the open house agreed that there is likely no "silver bullet" that would fix all the problems, but not everyone agreed TAM's proposal is the best solution.

"The conditions that are occurring now with Doherty Drive closed are an illustration of what might happen under this project," argued Larkspur Vice-Mayor Dan Hillmer after touring the presentation. He believes the project will increase traffic congestion on surface streets, just as traffic on other major arteries has increased during the Doherty Drive shutdown.

TAM and CalTrans staff were on hand Monday to guide residents through a display of engineer's drawings, models and photos. The highlight was a slick computer animation projection of what drivers could expect to see while driving along the new corridor.

What they would see southbound coming off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard is an auxiliary lane with an exit onto Fifer and an extended merge onto Highway 101. An overpass, meanwhile, carries southbound Highway 101 traffic to an exit onto Wornum Drive.

More information on the project is available through the TAM website.

The presentation listed the project benefits as:

  • Reduced traffic congestion along US 101
  • Improved local roadway access to and from US 101
  • Improved accessibility to local and regional transit
  • Improved pedestrian and bicycle access throughout the Greenbrae/Twin Cities Corridor
  • Improved safety and operation of US 101 and the local roadway network

Most people who have seen the proposal seem to be satisfied with the plans for northbound Highway 101 which would eliminate the dangerous entrance from Lucky Drive. The plans for southbound Highway 101 have generated significant concern among residents, businesses and council members.

Hillmer and Corte Madera Vice-Mayor Diane Furst agreed that the proposed project would likely create congestion on Tamal Vista Boulevard. That same congestion could cause traffic backups on Magnolia Avenue, according to Hillmer, as people try to find alternative routes between Larkspur and Corte Madera. TAM executive director Dianne Steinhauser said traffic on Tamal Vista Boulevard might actually be eased with the project.

"The project doesn't recognize the impacts to surface streets in Corte Madera and Larkspur," Hillmer said. "It's like taking water flowing from a one-inch pipe into a quarter-inch pipe."

The project also calls for additional or improved access for cyclists and pedestrians. Part of the project adds bike lanes to Tamal Vista Boulevard.

CalTrans is currently reviewing the Draft Environmental Document, which is expected to be released in October for a 45-day public comment period.

"I look forward to seeing what the draft environmental document reveals," Furst said.

The agencies currently have about $50 million of the estimated $150 million needed for the project, according to Betcy Joseph of CalTrans.

Corte Madera is also preparing for the redevelopment of the former WinCup property on Tamal Vista Boulevard. The property borders the elevated section of Highway 101 under TAM's proposal.

Larkspur, meanwhile, has several projects on its radar, including the SMART Ferry Connector that will cross Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in the Larkspur Landing area.

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