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What Would You Do With $110 Million for Transportation Improvements?

A recent article in the Marin IJ reveals that a reported total of $110 million has just become available for a variety of transportation improvement projects in Marin. Proposed projects include $40 million for extending SMART train service all the way to the Larkspur ferry terminal and improving bike accessibility in Greenbrae. An additional $70 million is being considered for a project that would add another lane to the Richmond-San Rafael bridge.

Where did all this money come from? Well, for starters, the first $40 million has become available due to the failed attempt to build an elevated freeway lane on southbound 101 between Corte Madera and Greenbrae. Back in 2004, voters approved Regional Measure 2, which raised Bay Area bridge toll prices by $1 dollar in order to generate revenue for highway improvement projects. One of those proposed was meant to ease traffic congestion on that notorious stretch of 101. Perhaps the project was doomed from the start, but ultimately it proved impossible for Caltrans, the Transportation Authority of Marin and area residents to come together and approve a plan. No surprise there. Needless to say, the project died a quiet death.

It is unfortunate that we won't be getting this much-needed additional lane on southbound 101, and this editorial from October expresses justified frustration with the project's fate. On the bright side, though, the two projects that are replacing it are going to be invaluable additions to Marin's transportation landscape. As an accident attorney who represents pedestrians, cyclists and drivers in Marin and throughout the Bay Area, I am always behind taking steps to heighten the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, and the proposed "Greenway" - a bike path that would cross over Sir Francis Drake Blvd and continue all the way from the Golden Gate Bridge to Petaluma - would increase accessibility for cyclists while protecting them from vehicular traffic. Even though this project might be costly, it will be more than worth it for the Bay Area's cycling community.

Moreover, extending SMART train service from Petaluma all the way through San Rafael to the Larkspur ferry terminal will be a giant step in the right direction for Marin public transportation. This will make commuting immeasurably easier for many Marin residents. The proposed Larkspur train station is directly next to the ferry terminal, so passengers aboard the train will have a straight shot walking to the ferry.

Then there's the Richmond-San Rafael bridge. How often have you been sitting in a mess of traffic, just wishing the bridge had one more lane? Although $70 million is a big chunk of change to spend and the construction would likely be its own traffic nightmare, ultimately I think this project is totally warranted. In the end, it will result in fewer accidents not only on the bridge, but on the stretches of 580 leading up to the bridge in either direction.

What transportation improvements would you like to see built in Marin if you had this sum of $110 million to spend? Do you think the money is being allocated correctly? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section.

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