Capdiamont\’s Weblog


MIJ: County to solicit bids to re-open Cal Park tunnel
Wednesday 14 May 2008, 10:23
Filed under: Marin, Railroad, SMART

Brad Breithaupt
Article Launched: 05/13/2008 04:25:47 PM PDT

A reopened California Park tunnel and a flat five-minute bike ride between San Rafael and Larkspur Landing could be a reality before 2010.

Construction on the $25.1 million project is expected to start late this summer.

The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to seek construction bids for the first phase of work, reopening and repairing the tunnel.

Half the cost of the project is being paid for by the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District, which owns the tunnel and plans to run a commuter train through it; the balance comes from state and federal funds. A bike path will run along the tracks.

The tunnel has been closed since the 1980s when a fire damaged its southern end, causing it to collapse. Further damage was caused by a 1990 fire.

Craig Tackabery, assistant county public works director, said construction could take 14 months.

A 2002 county study estimated that 800 to 1,000 bicyclists and pedestrians would use the path every day.

“It’s an old study, before gas hit $4,” Tackabery said.

David Hoffman, planning director of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, said that, once completed, the route through the tunnel could make the bike trip from San Rafael to Larkspur faster by bicycle than by car. It can take 20 minutes by car to navigate a circuitous route between downtown San Rafael and Larkspur Landing.

Reopening the tunnel is a “quality of life” improvement that is a centerpiece of bike advocates’ hopes of creating a bike “greenway”
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alongside Highway 101 through Marin, Hoffman said.

Kinsey added that construction has to begin by August to preserve funding that has been earmarked for the project.

Tackabery said the county may benefit from timing, noting that the economy has made contractors hungry for work and bidding has reduced the cost of construction projects.

Dave Magdanz of San Rafael, another bike advocate, urged the board to also move forward with plans to create a bike path crossing Corte Madera Creek near Larkspur Landing and reopening the long-closed Alto Tunnel to create a new bike path between Mill Valley and Corte Madera.

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