San Anselmo plans slate of traffic projects at the Hub

San Anselmo is moving forward with a series of traffic improvements at the Hub, an old railroad junction that has become the most congested intersection in the county.

The Town Council said Tuesday it would like to tackle a range of lower-budget upgrades, while taking time to study some potential big-ticket projects.

For the near term, projects include an adaptive traffic signal control system, upgraded pedestrian beacons and crosswalks and a bicycle bypass route that runs through Creek Park. The combined cost estimate is approximately $8 million.

As the ball gets rolling on those projects, town officials will seek a consultant to produce a more in-depth study of a proposed roundabout, a T-intersection and a bicycle and pedestrian flyover. These projects are in the range of $20 million to $30 million and possibly more.

“We actually have a really interesting opportunity in this community to design a paradigm project that addresses the real need of cars while at the same time accepting that we need to really focus on and improve active transportation,” Councilmember Brian Colbert said. “And this project is it.”

Colbert said he wants town officials to go to the Transportation Authority of Marin, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and other agencies to seek grant funding to study the big-ticket projects.

At its meeting on Tuesday, the Town Council was presented with a traffic report that produced several scenarios for improvements at the Hub, which links Fairfax, Ross and San Anselmo to San Rafael and Highway 101.

Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Center Boulevard and Red Hill Avenue meet at the intersection, which also connects to Bridge, Greenfield and San Anselmo avenues. The Hub serves about 65,000 vehicles daily.

David Parisi, the town’s traffic consultant, said that by an engineer’s definition, the intersection is congested, scoring an “E,” from a range of A to F, in a level-of-service analysis. That means delays average around 80 seconds and the traffic causes driver frustration.

The report took into account community and stakeholder feedback on what’s needed and desired at the Hub. The report produced eight proposals for traffic and transit improvement, and five concepts for walking and biking.

The proposal for the adaptive traffic signal system would cost about $5 million. The system works by monitoring traffic and adjusting accordingly.

The pedestrian beacon and crosswalk upgrades would cost about $2 million. Beacons at Essex Avenue, Madrone Avenue and Center Boulevard would be upgraded. High visibility crosswalks would replace existing crosswalks throughout.

The bicycle bypass would be a two-way, west-east connector that takes cyclists out of the Hub intersection entirely at a project cost of about $1 million. From the west side, the path would run east along Center Boulevard through Creek Park, south along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and then east on Bank Street to Lincoln Park and then Greenfield Avenue.

Parisi said pedestrian and bicycle counts were low, about 10 per hour. He said community feedback indicates that people avoid the intersection because they feel unsafe.

Vice Mayor Eileen Burke said she is concerned about the bicycle bypass because the plan calls for removing parking spaces along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard at Creek Park. Burke said if the town moves forward with the bike plan, it should be done in conjunction with the long-planned revamp of the park.

Although the roundabout plan has garnered community support, today’s estimate is $30 million. Council members said they are more intrigued by the proposed T-intersection that would accomplish the same goals of improving traffic flow while shortening pedestrian crossings and improving safety for an estimated $25 million.

“I really want to like the roundabout concept, but I am just concerned about the pedestrian crossings and how bikes would navigate through,” Councilmember Alexis Fineman said. “The T-intersection is interesting. I think it makes a lot of sense.”

The bicycle flyover proposal would cost about $25 million. It would create a 1,200-foot bridge about 22 feet above the intersection.

Colbert said San Rafael is making lots of bicycle connectivity progress with its Third Street improvements and that San Anselmo should be doing its part.

Councilmember Tarrell Kullaway agreed, saying, “The research all shows if you build it they will come, as far as bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.”

“We need to build more of that,” Kullaway said. “We need to become a community of the future.”

Mayor Steve Burdo said he supports the three recommended short-term projects.

“At the beginning stages, we don’t want to leave any options off the table,” Burdo said. “So I think doing a thorough review of each makes a lot of sense.”

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