The $68m Bridge Too Far

The $68m Bridge Too Far

Many Marinites and East Bay residents suffer at the hands of acute delays on both 580 and 101 in the evenings caused by the evening backup on the Richmond San Rafael Bridge. The fix is on the way drivers have been told thanks to a $70.3m project set to: add an additional third lane that operates during the evening peak towards Richmond construct a bike path the length of the bridge span Planning for Reality questioned just how this $70.3m was allocated between the additional lane – likely a striping and signage exercise – and the bike path.  Today the Metropolitan Transportation Authority – the Bay Area’s regional transit authority – responded. The $68m Bike Path (was $53m) The breakdown, shown right in MTC’s response is as follows: Bike path: $53m Peak period third car lane: $15m Initial project development costs: $2.3m Not shown – cost to replace bike access path: $15m UPDATE: Note at the bottom of page 12: Please note that the peak period (3rd) lane use may result in the loss of existing bicycle access in Contra Costa County from Pont Molate to Richmond on I-580 shoulder. The estimate cost to replace this access is $15 million and was not included in the $70 million estimate Take a look at those numbers again, now consider the number of people who would benefit from the projects: Cars on 580 peak hour: 6,100 Cars on 101 peak hour: 14,000 Avg #car occupants: 1.13 #hours peak commute: 2 Total people affected: 45,426 According to the latest 2013 Walk Bike Marin bike counts the average Marin bike path has 53...
The “Sinister Marin” Housing Survey

The “Sinister Marin” Housing Survey

Over the last week residents across the county experienced the “sinister Marin” telephone housing survey asking questions that might as well have been “are you a racist?” to find out which angle of attack would be the most effective to push through high density housing across our county. The survey’s backer was not disclosed, but the exercise  clearly involved big money. My contact at CALM – a loose coalition that has been pushing for high density development in Marin – denied it was their doing. Those with market research insight told me that a simple 300-400 respondent telephone survey costs in the realm of $25,000+. What was most puzzling is the number of friends who have been active in the high density housing discussion who were contacted. There are 100,000 households in Marin. The likelihood of being one of the (say) 400 respondents should be 0.4%. However a survey of 50 friends across Marin involved in high density housing revealed that over 6 had taken the survey – that’s 12%. Others thoughts on the matter are: Coincidence: after a highly active email thread we were all primed the survey was happening so we grabbed the phone quickly. (This is my belief, I’m not convinced of any conspiracy) Pre-Targeted Respondents:The organization conducting the survey pre-seeded respondents with those they identified as involved in the high density housing wars. They wanted to build a profile and understanding of their opponents that they could use later. (This was the belief of others, they pointed to the 12% sample when statistics suggest that of our group of 50 only one of us should have been...
Novato Narrows Widened – Huge ROI Compared to Bike Paths

Novato Narrows Widened – Huge ROI Compared to Bike Paths

This coming Friday Caltrans is set to open up a new section of carpool lane northbound from Atherton Avenue/San Marin Drive exit to the Birkenstock warehouse, about 1.3 miles in length. This carpool lane will increase the capacity of 101 by 1,200 cars per hour – which at 1.67 occupants per hour (US DoT figure) and 3 hours of peak hour travel equates to 6,012 people getting where they need to go faster in that lane – not withstanding the additional congestion removed that speeds up the other lanes. This means $9m was spent helping 6,012 people = $1,497 per person Comparison to Bike Path ROI per Person Walk Bike Marin and the Nonmotorized Transportation Program identified three locations where $27.7m was spent to build bike (and pedestrian) paths. On average locations transport 53 riders an hour or 159 riders. This means $9.2m was spent helping 159 people = $58,071 per person This is 3,779% higher than the cost per person to improve 101 via a carpool lane. (although some of this was pedestrian so this gives bikes an unfairly low number) According to the Marin County Bicycle Coalition the total estimated cost for building Marin County’s complete bicycle and pedestrian network is over $100 million (Source). Comparison to SMART Here are the ingredient numbers. SMART will cost $1.2billion, at best using highly optimistic figures, it might transport 330 people daily. I’ll let readers do the math. Moral of the Story Our county supervisors and planners need to keep their eye on the ball and recognize that job #1 for dwindling, hard earned transportation funding is to move as many...
Marin’s Climate Action Plan – Moving into Checkmate Position

Marin’s Climate Action Plan – Moving into Checkmate Position

Fighting climate change is important – but what seems to have become even more important to special interests groups is placing significant impositions on the greater population, sometimes for profit, but also in the simple belief that everyone should make sacrifices to fight climate change, no matter how imposing and how minimal the actual impact is. These impositions surface as: High density housing appearing in your neighborhood, and you discover all ability to oppose it has been undermined (we have to do it to save the planet!) Noise and polluting transportation projects appearing right next to your house that encourage further development, cause congestion and ultimately a negative spiral towards apartment blocks served by trains and trolleys Money that could have been used to address severe traffic congestion problems is instead diverted to pet transportation projects that are entirely cost-ineffective at fighting climate change or moving any significant number of people Higher taxes, cap and trade funds used to pay for the above (high density housing, cost-ineffective transportation projects) Special Interests Moving into “Checkmate” Position What few know about, or realize, is that transit advocates, housing advocates and local government have been getting busy drafting their plan for how Marin should do it’s fair share to fight global climate change. Only a few of us realized what’s been happening – but it’s now time to pull the alarm cord and expose what’s going on. The drafting of Marin’s  Climate Action Plan 2014 Update is akin to special interests playing a game of chess, and moving their queen into position for checkmate. This action plan can be used in a...

SMART – Quiet Zone and Financial Update

Many hundreds of San Rafael and Novato residents stand to be impacted or significantly impacted by 100 dB SMART Train horns that will commence at around 5:45am every weekday. Most of these residents remain unaware. Test soundings of horns along the line can be heard “loud and clear” 1 1/2 miles away. Over 390 cities have implemented “Quiet Zones”. These require not insignificant expenditure – millions by the train operator, possibly tens of thousands by cities – and that cities apply to the Federal Railroad Administration for a Quiet Zone. Quiet Zones remove trains obligations to blow their horns for 15-20 seconds as they approach railroad crossings. San Rafael has sufficient railroad crossings that this means the train will be sounding it’s horn near continuously. There will be 22 trains per day concentrated to morning and evening peaks. Even though Quiet Zones eliminate these horns  considerable noise will remain: The train is required to blow it’s horn when departing each station  (E.g. Civic Center) Bells will ring at each crossing as crossing arms go up or down The diesel engine and wheels will make noise San Rafael Quiet Zone Update 1) In a July presentation SMART made to Sonoma County Alliance, it stated the following which is concerning and might signal a backtrack on Quiet Zones: If the FRA or CPUC require additional capital outlays as part of a jurisdiction’s QZ application, those expenditures are not covered by SMART. 2) A specific cost that we know is part of the Quiet Zone process is the “diagnostics” that need to be submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Nadar Mansourian,...