What you can do Save the SMART Path in San Rafael
MEASURE Q, WHERE ARE YOU?!
Note: This section excerpts Executive Director Jim Elias’ editorial which appeared in the Marin Voice Section of the Marin Independent Journal on 9/28/15.
In November 2008, Marin and Sonoma voters passed Measure Q, launching the visionary SMART train and pathway project. The pathway portion of the project was designed to connect all 14 SMART Stations, with the majority of its length – approximately 54 miles – comprised of a paved, off-road, Class I multiuse pathway. Measure Q, which provided a ¼ cent sales tax to fund SMART, specifically indicated that the tax would be used for both a train and a pathway. There was never any question about this.
In March of 2011, the SMART Board identified several austerity measures intended to save the financially ailing train and pathway project, including deferring many aspects of the project until additional funds could be found. Among them, the Board voted to defer 1/3 of the funds needed for the pathway. This left only $28 million toward the estimated cost of $42 million earmarked to environmentally clear, design and build the pathway from San Rafael to Santa Rosa.
While this appeared to be a major setback for the project, the bicycle/pedestrian community agreed it was a necessary sacrifice to save SMART, and was assured that the pathway would still be built with the remaining $28 million.
Despite this history, and these assurances, SMART now intends to build only approximately three miles of pathway with Measure Q funds. SMART asserts that there are “no other funds” to build the pathway.
Translation: SMART is utilizing only a small fraction of the Board-dedicated $28 million pathway monies toward actually building the pathway.
The SMART Board NEVER voted to de-fund the SMART pathway, but that is essentially what is happening. SMART has suggested that they will use other funds to build the pathway, at some point – despite very few, and often empty, pots of federal, state, regional and local bicycle/pedestrian funding.
The Marin County Bicycle Coalition and Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition have worked for over a decade and a half toward enabling and realizing the SMART vision. Measure Q would never have passed in 2008 without the promise of a pathway. SMART’s current plan is simply unacceptable.
It’s time to stand up and collectively say that we voted for the Pathway, we’re paying for the Pathway, and we want SMART to deliver on its promise of a Pathway.
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP:
- SIGN THE PETITION TO THE SMART BOARD urging SMART to provide and funding plan and timeline for the Pathway, to fund and construct the SMART multiuse pathway- in its entirety- as was promised to voters with the passage of Measure Q, and to fund and construct the Pathway from Second Street to Andersen Drive in San Rafael at the same time as the rail.
- Send an “I want my multiuse pathway” photo message to the SMART Board or Directors via Instagram. Use the tag: #savethesmartpath OR email your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.Get creative with your messaging. Give the Board an idea of the huge array of future Path users and the safety, economic and other benefits the Path will provide. Take the photo in front of your business, place of employment, school. Gather your co-workers, family, employees, classmates, etc to join you.
- SPEAK UP: WRITE AND CALL YOUR ELECTEDS: Request a funding plan and timeline for the Multiuse Pathway (as has been done with the rail). Let the SMART Board, San Rafael City Council, and County Supervisors know that you support all efforts to protect, fund and construct the multiuse pathway. Share stories about how you and those you know will use the Pathway.
SMART General Manager:
THAT’S NOT ALL!
SAN RAFAEL SMART PATH IS AT RISK OF PERMANENT ELIMINATION!
In January 2015, we asked for your help in urging the City of San Rafael and SMART to take all steps necessary to protect the pathway through San Rafael and to ensure this critically important link in the SMART Multiuse Pathway and Marin’s North-South Greenway remains protected and prioritized! Dozens of you attended the January 20th San Rafael City Council meeting and/or wrote letters to the City Council, County Supervisors and SMART. Thank you!!!
In response to public concerns, the City of San Rafael asked the Transportation Authority of Marin to fund an impartial right-of-way analysis of Pathway alternatives between Second and Andersen, which the County of Marin is now performing. But, SMART has no intentions of considering alternative routes; they are plowing forward with the assumption that bicyclists and pedestrians can be dumped onto industrialized city streets.
WHY THE SMART PATH FROM DOWNTOWN SAN RAFAEL
TO LARKSPUR IS CRITICAL:
Completion of the sections of the SMART Pathway (North-South Greenway) through San Rafael would:
- Connect Marin’s two most important and heavily used transit centers, the San Rafael Transit Center and the Larkspur Transit Center.
- Result in a completely safe and separated from traffic multiuse pathway from southern Corte Madera (right in front of the Alto Tunnel) to the Marin Civic Center, and eventually, all the way to Novato.
- Provide for a safe path of travel to Downtwon San Rafael and the San Rafael Transit Center for eastern San Rafael and Canal residents, where currently access is very dangerous, requires several street crossings, and involves navigating high volumes of vehicle traffic.
- Close the bike/ped gap to our most populated city center and the N-S Greenway to the north. Tens of million of dollars were spent on the Cal Park Tunnel and the now under construction Central Marin Ferry Connection!
- Provide those living and working in Marin a safe, affordable, environmentally friendly, and healthy alternative to commuting by car.
- Allow people to ride from Larkspur, Greenbrae, Corte Madera, and San Rafael to the Marin Civic Center, perhaps the biggest automobile traffic generator in Marin County.
- Connect the Ross Valley and San Rafael with the Golden Gate Ferry in Larkspur.
RESOURCES & BACKGROUND MATERIALS
1. Downtown San Rafael to Larkspur Extension Environmental Assessment
Released on Dec. 19, 2014, the Downtown San Rafael to Larkspur Extension Environmental Assessment (EA) assesses the potential environmental impacts of extending the SMART project from San Rafael to Larkspur; however, the proposed project does not include the pathway! Furthermore, the rail project as proposed, could in fact preclude future construction of the pathway! This is why the City of San Rafael’s SMART Pathway Right-of-Way Study, discussed above, is so critically important and why SMART should not be taking any steps to extend the rail until the study has been completed and the path can be funded and constructed at the SAME TIME as the rail.
The SMART project is and always has been a train and pathway project. The current EA presents only two alternatives: the “No Project Alternative” and the “Preferred Alternative.” In order to simplify and streamline environmental review, SMART completely removed the pathway from the Preferred Alternative. Worse yet, the Preferred Alternative as designed will preclude the pathway from ever being built in the future. Marin and Sonoma voters voted for a train and pathway to Larkspur. It’s time for SMART to illustrate how it plans to deliver on that promise!
Adopted on Dec. 17, 2014, the Strategic Plan 2014 plan identifies the priorities for the SMART Train and Pathway Project for the next 5 years, as well as includes an overview of remaining project elements (Future Phases) and their estimated costs. As you’ll see on pages 10-11 of the Plan, under Future Project Elements-Bicycle/Pedestrian Pathway, the SMART Pathway segments from North San Pedro Road to Andersen Drive in San Rafael were excluded from the list of future pathway segments! Help MCBC to urge SMART to replace all multiuse pathway segments missing from the Strategic Plan 2014.
Click here – SMART.Path_Restoring.the.Vision_0815 – to review supporting information, including SMART’s own documents, clearly illustrating SMART’s obligation to fund, design and construct the multiuse pathway!
QUICK REVIEW (IN A NUTSHELL):