On Wednesday, Aug. 25 the discussion of the traffic situation continued on for the eleventh month with a workshop held at San Anselmo Town Hall.
The Town Manager, Public Works Director, Chief of Police, two Police Captains, a Fire Department Battalion Chief, the Director of the Transportation Authority of Marin, and four council members gathered together with about seven members of the public to hear a traffic consultant consider -- for at least the sixth time -- the ever-growing traffic concerns on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.
Many interesting facts about the situation were clarified and placed in context at the workshop. First, the main concern appears to be pedestrian safety for anyone walking on the south side of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard between Butterfield Road and the area just south of San Anselmo Avenue. One resident stated that he "feared" walking on that stretch. Another resident, Derek Mitchell, showed a piece of a car bumper that he picked up from a clipped telephone pole, along with a graphic photo of a crash in front of his house.
Along with this dramatic evidence, traffic consultant David Parisi & Associates, who conducted the most recent study, revealed some interesting and rather startling traffic figures from the area in question. Sir Francis Drake Boulevard between Butterfield Road and the Hub carries 35,000 cars per day! Or 10 million in a year!
Remarkably, some 40 percent or 14,000 car trips a day appear to be coming from Butterfield Road.
Police Chief Maynard also noted that even for that much traffic on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard there are relatively few accidents and the average speed is only about 31 miles per hour. In addition, so far this year 860 traffic citations have been issued and a radar-controlled speed indicator sign has been in place for the past few months.
Still, those statistics don't necessarily make the residents and pedestrians along the street feel safer.
Some creative possible solutions were discussed, mainly by the audience. One proposal was to close down one of the two lanes on Butterfield Road at Sir Francis Drake Boulevard during non-commute hours. Fire Battalion Chief McCarthy noted that before the two collector lanes on Butterfield Road were added several years ago, traffic backed-up past the fire house on Butterfield, impeding the entry and exit of fire trucks.
Another interesting, but politically-suicidal idea, was the opening of Fawn Drive over the hill to Terra Linda. (Few recall that a Supervisor race was lost over this very idea several decades ago!)
Among some of the other ideas put forth were widening the sidewalks away from the street, shaving the crown off the street to reduce the amount cars tip as they come around the corner or over the hill at Butterfield. Additionally, since the new crossing control systems placed at Madrone Avenue and Drake High School school intersections are slowing traffic, one could also be placed at San Anselmo Avenue. Finally, there was also the suggestion to revert to one of the solutions previously discussed in the road-diet study, simply reducing the traffic to one lane in each direction. This would allow parking on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and slow traffic at the Hub. Council member Jeff Kroot appeared to be advocating for this approach. Captain Valeri of the police department noted, however, that drivers would be stepping into the traffic lane when exiting their parked cars.
While all of these creative and sometimes expensive solutions were being vetted, Diane Steinhauser, Executive Director of the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM), clarified a letter TAM sent to the town in May. Essentially, the letter stated that since Sir Francis Drake Boulevard is the critical east-west link in Marin, adjustments to traffic flow on such an artery must include consideration of the regional traffic. Boiled down that means that if San Anselmo does anything that affects the traffic flow, mitigation would have to be provided. If the town did negatively affect regional traffic, federal road funds could possibly jeopardized. But, at the same time, Steinhauser noted that TAM has multiple funding sources that could assist the town in smaller fixes along the street.
Town Manager Debbie Stutsman told the audience that the council will be presented with options for action at the council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 28 at Town Hall.
While the physical boundary of the problems on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard extend for a relatively short distance, the impact of any action taken will have major effects on those traveling from Sleepy Hollow, Fairfax, central Marin, and even from southern Sonoma County.
This is an issue that bears attention from the broadest community. And, eventually some actual action.