Another step in completing the bicycle friendly, North-South Greenway in Marin County was made Monday when groundbreaking occurred for the Central Marin Ferry Connection Project. A steel bridge will run across Sir Francis Drake Boulevard close to the 101 Freeway where a railroad trestle was located.
The ceremony took place in Larkspur by Marin Airporter depot at the southern end of the Cal Park Tunnel bicycle – pedestrian path that runs from San Rafael to Larkspur. Around 60 people attended the ceremony which included representatives from Marin County agencies.
Construction starts Tuesday and is estimated to take between 12 to 14 months. The elevated pathway is strategically located to take advantage of the locations of the tunnel, ferry terminal and future Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) station which will be nearby. The Transportation Agency of Marin (TAM) states that the bridge will link “all modes of transportation in a seamless, comprehensive network.”
Steve Kinsey of the Marin County Board of Supervisors is also the commissioner representing Marin for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) quoted Nikita Khrushchev in his address to the crowd. "Politicians are the same all over, they promise to build bridges even when there are no rivers,' We certainly have that here today," he joked.
Among various groups he thanked, he mentioned that the Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC). He said they “led the charge on us having this vision of a a separate bike and walking facility from the Sonoma County Line to the Golden Gate Bridge.”
Advocacy Director of the MCBC, Andy Peri said the Central Marin Ferry Connection Project began in 1999. “We started having visions of using the trestle as a bridge for bicycles and pedestrians. Around the same time Larkspur had ambitions to tear it down (after a truck hit a support post and weakening the structure) as they wanted to change the intersection. It was at that time that MCBC and Larkspur had what the Pacific Sun called the Trestle Wrestle.”
"Some wrestling happened and in the end what happened is that Larkspur got what it needed and MCBC got what it needed, which was to do a study for not only getting over Sir Francis Drake but all the way over Corte Madera Creek. So that study was done and now about a decade plus later here we are going into construction on this project," Peri said.
Peri mentioned that not all bike commuters coming through the tunnel end up riding through Marin Country Mart shopping center and over the narrow pedestrian bridge to the ferry terminal but opting for the closer and busy intersection of Sir Francis Drake across from the terminal. Katie Rice from the Marin County Board of Supervisors said, “there may not be a river down here that this bridge is crossing but Sir Francis Drake Boulevard is like the Rio Grande. If you are trying to get to one side to the other without aid, it's impossible. It's so necessary to have that bridge for safe passage."
Besides representatives of the agencies involved, a group of bicyclists rode to the event and are looking forward to using the bridge when it is completed in 2015. Sue Potter of Novato was one cyclist anticipating its completion. "Absolutely, I will definitely use it and the tunnel," she said.