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.
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 apparently just sit and suffer in traffic – while our gas taxes and bridge tolls bankroll these projects our priorities come last when MTC is making decisions.
Assuming peak traffic lasts 3 hours and cars have 1.13 occupants (average based on US DoT 2009 National Household Travel Survey) the following numbers of travelers are affected by these projects that I have to assume have a lower priority than helping 54 x 3 = 162 cyclists.
Hourly Peak: 54 riders (applying the average for Marin bike paths, Walk Bike Marin weekday bike countspage 23 Table B-3 as used in Congressional Nonmotorized Transportation Report)
Three hour commute: 162 travelers benefit (that’s just 0.82% of people benefiting from additional car lane)
Estimated Cost: $68m
Cost per Person Benefitting: $419,753 (8,475% higher than cost benefit of Novato Narrows HOV lane)
Hourly peak: 5,800 cars x 1.13 occupants = 6,554
Three hours commute: 19,662 travelers benefit
Hourly peak: 13,400 x 1.13 occupants =15,142 (Source Caltrans traffic counts, 2013, 101 at NOVATO, JCT. RTE. 37 EAST)
Three hours commute: 45,426 travelers benefit
Estimated Cost: $225m (source MTC Commissioner & Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey in an email sent to me Jan 5, 2015, at 7:05 PM)
Cost per Person Benefitting: $4,953
If these documents and estimate amounts have not changed, and the costs of the bike path across the bridge remain $68m as MTC communicated on November 6th then this would appear to be a cover up – unless MTC has moved at quite the most lightning speed never before achieved by a government entity.
MTC is the same agency that brought us Plan Bay Area, the $484m Bart Oakland airport connector (massively overran cost projections, replaces a free shuttle with a ridiculously expensive monorail) and it’s headquarters at 375 Beale Street that also has massive cost overruns and has had it’s address renumbered in ideological testament to Senate Bill 375 – the Bill that brought us Plan Bay Area.