Installment of bridge over Sir Francis Drake to begin in late March

Annie Forsman

Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, between the Highway 101 exit and the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, will be closed for two days at the end of March in order to install a prefabricated footbridge over the busy thoroughfare.

Artistic rendering of the new Central Marin Ferry Connection Multi-Use Pathway over East Sir Francis Drake Blvd in Larkspur.
Artistic rendering of the new Central Marin Ferry Connection Multi-Use Pathway over East Sir Francis Drake Blvd in Larkspur.

The new bridge will ensure a safer and more accessible route across the bustling boulevard for bicyclists and pedestrians regularly commuting from the Cal Park Hill Tunnel and Larkspur Ferry Terminal.

“Not only will this promote walking and biking, but it will enhance safety for those committed to using human power to get around,” said Raul Rojas, Marin County Public Works Director to the Marin Independent Journal. “There will be a couple of days of minor inconvenience due to the bridge installation, so we’re doing everything we can to notify people well in advance to plan for the road closure.”

The bridge will arrive at the site in three sections on March 23 and will be installed during two closures.

Starting on March 26, the road will be closed from 10:30 p.m. until 4:30 a.m. the following day. On March 27, the second closure will take place from 10:30 p.m. until 6 a.m., concluding the installation of the skeletal structure of the bridge.

According to Rojas, the bridge will begin near the Cal Park Hill Tunnel, cross over the East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, and deliver people securely onto an east-west pathway, adjacent to the busy Boulevard.

The project will additionally place a new sidewalk on the north side of the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, connecting the pathway of the bridge with the sidewalk along Larkspur Landing Circle road. It will also improve upon the current multi-use pathway on the south side of the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard from the Highway 101 off ramp up to the ferry terminal and beyond, according to Rojas.

The Marin County Bicycle Coalition said that this project will close a major gap in Marin’s North-South Greenway, making it safer and easier for people to advance towards the Larkspur Ferry from the North and to the Cal Park Hill Tunnel from the South and West.

Ever since the renovated Cal Park Hill Tunnel reopened in 2010, the traverse from San Rafael to Larkspur became quicker and more common. However, commuters heading towards the Larkspur Ferry Terminal currently still have to pass through a parking lot and dangerous intersections on Sir Francis Drake.

The new structure will be a more direct route from San Rafael to Larkspur, cutting down the travel time for bikers or pedestrians headed to work or school.

Additionally, half of the new 30-foot-wide Cal Park Hill Tunnel will be devoted to a SMART train that will bring people to Larkspur and the ferry.

Upon landing in Larkspur, the new bridge will be accessible to the future train passengers headed to the ferry terminal or Larkspur Landing.

In the early fall of 2015, the entire Central Marin Ferry Connection Multi-Use Pathway project will be completed, which will consist of putting in hand railings, pouring concrete for the walkway, and installing lighting to the 291-foot bridge, said Bill Whitney, project manager for the Transportation Authority of Marin to the Marin Independent Journal.

“[Installing the bridge] sounds like a fantastic idea,” said Jordan Byck, a member of the Redwood Mountain Biking team. “I will absolutely use it when I am biking from San Rafael to Larkspur or taking the ferry since it will make the trip safer and faster.”

Byck additionally said that the bridge will hopefully push more people to bike or walk to the ferry when commuting to work or simply spending a day in the city.

Funding for the bridge came from the passing of the Bay Area 2004 Regional Measure 2, which increased the county’s bridge toll by one dollar.