Road Advocacy MCBC Helps Bring $3.4 Million in Bike Projects to Marin
Millions in bike project wins thanks to members like you. It’s spring in California, and MCBC has been hard at work planting the seeds of future bikeways. We’ve got updates on three projects that have recently been awarded funding thanks to our advocacy, and that of our supporters. In total, these projects represent a $3.4 million dollar investment in improving biking in Marin!
How Bike projects happen
Before we go any further, a brief aside about how bike projects come into being, since it helps explain why the news is a big deal.
The first step is getting a project into a plan. This might be a city’s bike plan or the SMART pathway master plan. It’s essentially a document that says, “sometime in the future we want to build this bikeway project in this location.”
But being in a plan isn’t enough. When cities set their annual budgets, they typically (and this is a problem) only include enough money to maintain the infrastructure they currently have, but not to build new infrastructure (including bike lanes). This means that the contents of a bike plan is typically “unfunded,” meaning that it’s still in search of extra money to bring to reality.
Funding for new infrastructure typically comes in the form of grants doled out at the regional, state, or national level. Like a nonprofit, the city writes a grant application and is awarded funds if the granting agency decides that the project is the best use of its money.
What goes into a Bike project
Between an idea and a ribbon-cutting, there are a number of steps.
Planning – This is the process of deciding exactly what to build and how to connect to points. Do we want paint-only bike lanes? Barrier-separated bike lanes? A grade-separated path? And what street should we use to connect people? These questions, usually involving community input, are part of the planning step.
Engineering/Design – This is where trained engineers draw out the designs on a computer, solving problems such as drainage, slopes, and ADA-access. This usually has some community involvement, but less so than planning.
Environmental Clearance/Permitting – Depending on the scope and location of the project, different levels of review are required, which may or may not solicit community feedback.
Construction – This is the fun part, when concrete gets poured and people get to finally use it.
All four steps need to happen to bring a project to life, but they are typically funded separately. Steps 1-3 make up a minority of the project cost (usually between 10-20%), but are the most difficult to get a grant for. Step 4 is the most expensive, but projects are easier to get construction funding for because the city/town/county has already shown, through the work done up to this point, that the project is a high priority.
New Project Funding
Just this past week, funding was allocated for three projects, representing millions of dollars in bike project wins
SMART – $2.5 million to get the remaining SMART Multi-Use Trail “shovel-ready” and competitive for grants
Last year, MCBC and our friends at Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition lobbied hard to get SMART to fully fund the rest of the pathway. In this we were successful, with SMART budgeting $11.4M for engineering and permitting (steps 2 & 3 above), and reserving another $2M as a local match for construction grants (step 4).
This week the board awarded a $2.5M design contract for the Marin segments (they did the same for Sonoma a few weeks ago). By the middle of next year, steps 2 & 3 should be complete, at which point SMART can seek grants to fund the construction to complete the pathway in Marin.
Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Larkspur – $700,000 for Planning and Design
Anyone who bikes between Larkspur and the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge has battled hairy traffic on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. The Bay Trail ends at Remillard Park with nothing but a shoulder for the 0.7 miles between there and the I-580 flyover at Andersen Drive.
This week we learned that Rep. Jared Huffman secured $700k to fund planning, engineering, and permitting (steps 1-3) for this segment. These federal funds are notoriously slow to be disbursed, and the planning process will require additional advocacy to ensure the safest option. That said, this represents a crucial hurdle to closing a dangerous gap to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and takes us a step closer toward completing the San Francisco Bay Trail.
BRIDGEWAY – $200,000 FOR CONSTRUCTION OF BIKE LANES
As we noted last year, with our assistance Sausalito won a grant to plan for bike lanes on Bridgeway between Richardson St (at Golden Gate Market) and Princess St. Unfortunately that funding has been slow to arrive. However, we have shaken it loose with a few choice emails, and the planning process should start soon.
Even more exciting, at the last meeting of the Sausalito City Council, the councilmembers elected to set aside $200k in Measure O money for the eventual construction (step 4) of the Bridgeway bike lane project. That likely won’t be enough for the whole project (it’s about half of the estimate), but it’s a great start.
A huge thanks to all of our members and supporters for their hard work in helping to secure millions and big wins for these bike-friendly projects.
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