SMART Pricetag to Exceed $1 billion; Additional $622m Requested

SMART Pricetag to Exceed $1 billion; Additional $622m Requested

On October 21st SMART published a new document outlining an additional $622m required to complete the SMART train project: SMART RTP2017 AttachmentA_Detail These asks can be broken down as follows: $178m – Extend from Santa Rosa to Cloverdale. This was promised to be delivered to voters within the original Measure Q funding request. $42.53m – Extend from San Rafael to Larkspur Again this was promised within the original Measure Q. $53m – Add additional ‘C’ cars (third middle carriages) SMART’s ridership numbers do not merit this additional expense as covered in this Marin Voice piece that I co-authored with Mike Arnold. $40m – Rail freight improvements Why are taxpayers being asked to foot the bill to help commercial freight operations? If there’s a return on investment for taxpayers we’ve yet to see this articulated. $29m – Rail operations capacity enhancements – handling freight, Positive Train Control (safety system) maintenance. Positive Train Control is a foreseeable requirement – this should have been in Measure Q. $11m – Petaluma, add a second station and “associated amenities” Before adding stations it would be better for SMART to understand if it will generate sufficient ridership to justify adding stations. This station by itself will hardly tip the balance. $124m – Construct the SMART bike path This was originally promised to be delivered by Measure Q; costs were projected to be $91m in 2009 $120m – Add facilities to stations …including station furniture, ADA features, landscaping, bike and car parking and sharing, real time transit signage, “intermodal improvements”, security enhancements and programs for car sharing $24m to cover operational costs for local partnerships with...

SMART asks Marin for $10-12m to Fund and Complete Each Station

SMART is asking to divert “astounding” amounts of money from genuinely cost effective and green transportation programs in Marin, in the words of Transportation Authority of Marin Executive Director Dianne Steinhauser. Watch from the 59m 30s mark of the October 22nd  Transportation Authority of Marin board meeting to see this outrage unfold: http://marin.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=7785 In the last week SMART has revealed at the Transportation Authority of Marin board of directors meeting that each SMART station in Marin will need $10-12m in funding. (Jump to the 59m 30s mark). There are 4 stations in Marin, 5 if Larkspur is included. This request is truly preposterous and should not be honored by TAM, let alone even entertained. Voters gave SMART the money it stated it would need to build the entire line from Cloverdale to Larkspur, including stations and a greenway path for bike and pedestrians connecting all the stations and shuttles – the funding was the 1/4c sales tax. SMART is breaching agreements by diverting funds from truly cost effective and green transportation projects into its boondoggle – a boondoggle without ridership projections, just a leap of faith. This is yet another broken SMART promise. SMART is now doing exactly what was foreseen – cannibalizing transportation project...
Supervisor Kinsey Dodges Richmond Bridge Questions

Supervisor Kinsey Dodges Richmond Bridge Questions

Many may know that Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey is taking credit for fast tracking the restoration of the Richmond Bridge third car lane – a project that will address acute traffic back ups on the bridge that go back onto 101 during the northbound evening rush hour. Supervisor Kinsey has been insistent that millions are spent to progress his vision of completing the “Bay Trail” – a bike / ped trail that encircles the bay. Recently this exchange occurred. The issue at hand is that to restore the 3rd car lane requires relocating an unused bike path in Point Molate (the eastern side of the bridge) at a cost of $15m and likely further delaying the project’s completion date. Supervisor Kinsey appears defiant in defending the expenditures, and evasive on the issue of the Point Molate bike lane relocation cost and project timeline impact. He appears unconcerned with expenditures of millions of dollars, or transportation projects with more acute needs. [From Steve Kinsey] I am not prepared to encourage BATA to ignore the State Highway Code, and they wouldn’t be able to do so even if I did. As a State mandate, it would be up to State legislative members to consider whether a change is warranted. In reading the Code sections cited, I doubt State legislators would be interested in making a revision, because the intent of it is to insure that highway projects don’t eliminate existing non-motorized facilities. The Code also commits the State to include parallel non-motorized facilities as part of highway projects when the alignment is part of an identified route, which is certainly...
MTC Caught In the Act on Richmond Bridge Bike Lane

MTC Caught In the Act on Richmond Bridge Bike Lane

On January 26th MTC’s spokesman on CBS TV Bay Area news contradicted documents previously provided to Planning for Reality as recently as November 6th 2014 that showed that the cost of the bike lane across the Richmond San Rafael Bridge is $68m – more than double the $30m referenced by MTC’s spokesman Randy Rentchsler (jump to the 1 minute mark). Given that according to Walk Bike Marin the average bike path in Marin has 53.5 riders per hour at peak and declining (see page 23 of the Walk Bike Marin figures that are referenced in a US Congress on Nonmotorized Transportation report), spending $68m on a bike path across a 5.5 mile bridge is a terrible waste of taxpayers money.  Given its location, length and the regular high crosswinds the bridge will likely have far fewer riders than the average Marin bike path.  MTC – Bike Path Cost “Just Part of the Program” Meanwhile tens of thousands of Marin County travelers in cars, the ones picking up the tab for the bike path via gas taxes and bridge tolls, are affected by failure to address acute traffic issues at the 101/580 connector in San Rafael (estimated cost $125m), the Greenbrae interchange and the Novato Narrows (cost $225m) – projects that would address acute issues affecting tens of thousands of people that to date remain unfunded while this $68m bike path helping less than 156 riders is funded. MTC’s spokesman tells us in this news report “we say the issue of the cost is just part of the program“! Apparently spending for a handful of bikers goes unquestioned, the rest of us paying for this development can...

The Supervisors Priority of Convenience: Climate Change

On December 31st 2014 the Marin IJ posted an article: Starting 2015: A Chance to Reboot Priorities that shared that the Marin County supervisors have decided “Topping their list are local priorities aimed at climate change”. My response – how very very convenient for a group of people with an agenda of rapid development and pet transit projects such as extending SMART. I ask, why isn’t one of the following the #1 priority: Dealing with the unfunded pension crisis Dealing with increasing traffic & congestion (an issue affecting the most people, with SMART Sonoma County is planning 25,888 new housing units, placing even more burden on highway 101) Drought (we may have rain now, but we are in a long term extreme drought) Dealing with / helping the  homeless If the #1 Priority is Climate Change Why Don’t Agendas Align With This? If climate change is indeed the supervisors #1 priority then we should expect the Marin IJ article and the supervisor’s focus to be about the #1 method of abating greenhouse gases according to Marin County’s own Climate Action Plan Update: Promoting the use of solar panels. However far better to tie the #1 priority to a “sounds right” we have to fight climate change to save the planet policy, and not mention solar panels. Why? Because then the supervisors can tie their favorite projects du jeur to priority #1 – climate change – and many uninformed sheeple will go along with it. Just look at the county’s own draft climate action plan analysis of how we can make the biggest difference to climate change and assess if they are...
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...