$142 million highway renovation project debated

Matthew Friend

Earlier this week, members of the community gathered for a public meeting to provide feedback and collect information about possible renovations to a local section of Highway 101.

During the hearing on Tuesday, local residents met at Redwood and were given an opportunity to voice their concerns to those involved with the project, which would bring major renovations to the strip of Highway 101 between the Paradise and Sir Francis Drake exits.

According to Bill Whitney, a representative form the Transportation Authority of Marin, this project was proposed is in response to the traffic congestion and safety hazards caused by the northbound Sir Francis Drake exit.

“We have a number of closely spaced on and off ramps, so there’s a conflict of getting on and off the highway,” Whitney said. “We are trying to eliminate those conflicts without removing access to and from the highway.”

Whitney said that this proposal would, among other changes, add another lane to the northbound Sir Francis Drake exit, create several new bike paths and lanes in the area, and create new stops for public transportation.

Opponents of this proposition at the meeting mainly cited a lack of urgency for such an expensive project, which is estimated to cost $142 million.
Some also voiced concern over the possible elimination of the pedestrian path that crosses the Corte Madera Creek.

“Based on what’s here today, I say absolutely not. It’s a waste of money,” said Corte Madera resident Colin Rand. “I haven’t seen any quantification of the problems. They say things are accident prone, but they haven’t said how many accidents there are.”

Larkspur resident Bill Hess said he opposed the project on financial grounds as well.

“Here’s a novel idea, spending money we don’t have yet!,” Hess said, adding that he strongly opposes a project which is funded by money to be collected in the future.

Whitney said that the majority of the money has already been raised from the increased bridge toll passed in 2004, but more would still be needed from future federal gas taxes.

Mill Valley resident Barbara Rolph said she was worried that the elimination of the pedestrian overpass, which she uses frequently on her bike.

If the project were to be approved, it would begin construction in early 2014, and would take about one year to complete, according to a timeline published by the Transportation Authority of Marin.

Below is a simulated video of what they highway would look life after construction, from the Transportation Authority of Marin website.