news 2nd to Andersen Pathway Set to Clear Final Hurdle
Construction of the 2nd to Andersen Pathway in San Rafael could commence as early as this June following an eleventh-hour effort from the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM), City of San Rafael, and County of Marin to cover a $3.5M shortfall.
In an emergency meeting last Monday February 12, the TAM Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to request that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) transfer funds from another pathway project in order to meet a funding deadline issued by SMART. Officials issued that deadline to ensure the pathway’s inclusion in SMART’s construction of the Larkspur rail extension.
As detailed in the timeline at the bottom of this article, MCBC and the City of San Rafael have fought an uphill battle to bring the project to this crucial point. After it was omitted from SMART’s environmental documents for the Larkspur extension in 2015, MCBC and Transportation Alternatives for Marin fought to prove its feasibility. Following threat of a potential lawsuit, SMART agreed to build the pathway if it was 1) environmentally cleared, 2) designed, and 3) funded by others prior to the Larkspur rail extension.
To their credit, the San Rafael City Council, staff, and consultants met the first two conditions under a challenging timeframe. Unfortunately, funding opportunities have been limited, necessitating this transfer.
For the project to move forward, MTC now needs to approve TAM’s request for the transfer of funds from the southern segment of the North-South Greenway Gap Closure Project (shown in the map below). Then, the City of San Rafael, County of Marin, and others need to come up with the remaining $500k. San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips indicated that the City has pledged $200k toward the effort.
North-South Greenway, Corte Madera – San Rafael. Under TAM’s proposed fund swap, funds from the southern segment of the North-South Greenway Gap Closure Project would be directed to the 2nd to Andersen Pathway. The northern segment, which will provide a new connection across Corte Madera Creek, is still funded and is expected to begin construction later this year. Map by MCBC.
If the above happens, the pathway construction will then be handed to SMART’s contractors to build alongside the Larkspur rail extension as early as June 2018. If this does not happen, officials fear that the project will become significantly more expensive, as a significant portion of the pathway would have to be constructed directly adjacent to an active rail line.
What it Means for the Gap Closure Project
While MCBC is pleased to see the 2nd to Andersen Pathway moving forward, seeing the money come from another deserving project is less than ideal. That being said, the southern segment of the Gap Closure Project is still at least a year away from receiving environmental clearance, meaning that it should be possible to backfill the funds before the project is construction-ready.
In voicing support for the transfer, MCBC reiterated support for the Gap Closure Project and asked TAM to give it priority for all upcoming funding opportunities.
2ND TO ANDERSEN PATHWAY TIMELINE
None of this, of course, would have been possible without the Save the SMART Pathway campaign initiated by MCBC and Transportation Alternatives for Marin in 2015.
November 2015: SMART, MCBC, and Transportation Alternatives for Marin sign a legal agreement in response to dispute over pathway’s feasibility. In the agreement, SMART agrees to allow the pathway to be constructed within its right-of-way, if feasible, and $1m in funding is committed to the project by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
July 2016: County’s feasibility study finds that there is room for the pathway within and adjacent to SMART’s right-of-way.
September 2016: In response to MCBC’s push for additional funds, the TAM Board of Commissioners approves $250,000 for the project to help pay for environmental review and design, both of which are needed to make the project shovel-ready before SMART begins its work on the Larkspur rail extension.
January 2017: City of San Rafael hires Alta Planning + Design to work on environmental review and design.
March 2017: MCBC writes letters to San Rafael City Council, 1) asking for regular public updates addressing the extent to which the City of San Rafael, its consultants, and SMART are working together to ensure compatibility between rail, road, and pathway design and construction, and 2) holding SMART accountable for their agreement to work in good faith to deliver the pathway.
April 2017: Alta presents preliminary design concepts at San Rafael Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting.
June 2017: SMART awards bid for Larkspur construction.
December 2017: 2nd to Andersen pathway receives environmental clearance.
February 2018: TAM Board of Commissioners unanimously moves to transfer funds from the North-South Greenway Gap Closure project, which still is still at least one year away from being construction ready, to the 2nd to Andersen project.
March 2018: City of San Rafael, County of Marin, and other agencies to decide whether to fund remaining $500k shortfall; MTC to decide on funding swap.
June 2018: SMART to begin construction of Larkspur rail extension. If the remaining funds are delivered following actions taken in March, the pathway should be incorporated into SMART’s design-build contract.