Student safety and outdoor accessibility widens with new Paradise Drive Sidewalk

Shyla Lensing

Over the past two months, the town of Corte Madera has led an ongoing project, widening Paradise Drive’s sidewalk near the Mariner Cove Neighborhood, and plans to finish Sept. 23. The expansion covers the north side of San Clemente Drive to Seawolf Passage, directly across from Corte Madera’s Nugget Market, and extends the previously four foot wide path to eight feet.
Sophomore Jack Zimmerman, who bikes along Paradise Drive every day to get to school, expressed the danger of tight spacing with crossing traffic on the former sidewalk.

The designs for the sidewalk widening exhibit the narrowness of the previous pathway and the new eight-foot parameters.

“Whenever I would be running or biking on the path, and somebody would be biking or walking their kid in a stroller [the other way], I would have to go into oncoming traffic in order to go around them or otherwisewe’d be stuck,” Zimmerman said. “It was way too narrow for two people to pass each other.”
Like Zimmerman, many other residents in the neighborhoods near the sidewalk had concerns about the constricted multi-use pathway, thus Corte Madera’s Safe Routes to Schools Task Force Committee submitted a request for the widening in 2015. The Town of Corte Madera scoped the project and eventually received a federal One Bay Area Grant for $595,000. After almost six years of designing, the construction for the new sidewalk officially began on June 31, 2021.

Chris Good, Corte Madera’s Senior Civil Engineer and overseer of the sidewalk widening, is pleased with the progress of the project so far.

“It’s been going pretty smoothly. The contractor has been on track the whole time, and [the workers] have already finished and opened sidewalks from Harbor Drive to Sea Wolf, which are being used by pedestrians and cyclists,” Good said.

One concern about the sidewalk construction has been the temporary loss of one driving lane on the north side of Paradise, causing morning and rush hour traffic congestion due to the number of schools surrounding the area.

Students bike along the new sidewalk in the morning, finally able to stay safely out of traffic with the wider pathway.

According to Good, this lane absence will continue for about another month when the town’s 2021 Road Rehabilitation Project, which begins shortly after the completion of the sidewalk, will allow for two lanes again. The Road Rehabilitation Project is an effort by Corte Madera to repave and improve many of the streets in the town. On Paradise’s Road Rehabilitation, the median of the road will be narrowed by about half a foot to make the two lanes fit and repave the length of the road the sidewalk sits adjacent to.

Jill Jackson, a Redwood parent and avid bicyclist, is excited for two lanes to return, but is still concerned about the potential traffic clogs that may occur with narrower byways and more bikers on the road.

“When it goes back to being two lanes [the traffic] will be better, but you’re still going to have congestion during school commute and rush hours,” Jackson said. “[Also], when cyclists still want to ride in the street, the lanes are going to be so narrow that it’s going to make the traffic congestion worse because cars will have to physically move lanes or merge together to allow room for those cyclists.”

Planning for almost six years, the Town of Corte Madera is rearing the end of construction for a new Paradise Drive sidewalk, making it safer for students biking and walking to school

Despite these challenges, Jackson is overall enthusiastic about the new sidewalk, especially as she sees the path as an opportunity for the surrounding neighborhoods to exercise more.
“I think the project in general is worthwhile, and I always like to see improvements in our community and neighborhood, especially for alternatives to driving your car,” Jackson said.
Similar to Jackson, Zimmerman is also excited for the expansion of the path, especially as it makes his commute to Redwood easier.
“I’m planning on using [the sidewalk] a lot more, because now … I can actually stay on that one side of the road that takes you all the way to Redwood,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a lot easier for accessibility.”
Zimmerman believes that the sidewalk’s development will also allow for a better outdoor atmosphere in the area.
“Considering how [East Corte Madera] has been lacking in infrastructure improvements over the past couple of years, I think [the sidewalk] is useful just to get people outside more,” Zimmerman said. “Improving how people can walk out of the neighborhood into the main Corte Madera and Larkspur areas … it’s [overall] a good investment.”