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San Rafael wants to delay/cancel Larkspur Extension.


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Comment by Richard C. Brand on February 18, 2017 at 10:10pm

Any updates on this RoW rebuild delay issue with the city of San Rafael? 

The SF Chron has reported today that the US Congressional delegation from California has requested that the committed funding for the electrification of Caltrain be withdrawn.

That project is shovel ready too. 

Comment by Richard C. Brand on February 7, 2017 at 10:06pm


Great analysis and based on your commentary I will recant my description of San Rafael as NIMBY.  Yes their problem is not in their back but in their front yard and is indicative of bad planning decisions.  All cities in coastal California have traffic problems, especially in our Bay Area so San Rafael is not unique.  The MTC has been working on solutions around the Bay for years and the smart ballot issue was approved over 6 or more years ago.  The city has had more than enough time to work out a solution.  This is City Planning 101 for transit without automobiles.

But while I feel that their whining will ultimately be denied, it does open up the potential for a terminal delaying of this important project.  The whole idea behind the smart initiative was to 1) provide an alternative to the traffic gridlock on 101 especially thru the San Rafael corridor where it is the worst, and 2) to create a transit option from Sonoma County and the North Bay down to Larkspur where the ferry system can then carry travelers across the Bay to other cities served by the ever growing ferry system.  A true regional transit system.

The federal grant approved to build the Larkspur extension is part of the previous administration's Recovery Initiative.  But those grants were based on this project being "shovel ready" which Mansourian says it is.  Any delay though will put that condition in jeopardy and most likely risk having the counties lose the grant.

Good for San Rafael probably as they will not have to pay to relocate Anderson drive, but IMHO a crippling financial blow to the smart strategic plan and a potential crippling and devastating  blow to smart's revenue.

Highball SMART!

Comment by Bob Cleek on February 7, 2017 at 2:49pm

It's not NIMBYism.  San Rafael does have traffic issues to deal with, but the simple fact, IMHO, is that San Rafael's city government has made a succession of bad decisions over the decades which are now coming home to roost.  As they say, denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

Beginning whenever it was, maybe thirty years ago now, San Rafael took a gamble that the ROW would never be operational again and built the Andersen Drive extension over the ROW.  They were told they could not do so and, IIRC, there was even litigation over it.  The upshot was that San Rafael agreed that if the ROW was ever operational again, they would pay to make what they'd obstructed operational again.  Thereafter, they proceeded on the assumption that the ROW would never see traffic again.  When the Bettini Transit Center was built, there was no thought whatsoever to any sort of rail traffic, although they preserved the ROW on that one.  They have little or no money to deal constructively with Andersen Drive, nor increased traffic around the SMART station downtown. They've had decades to plan for these developments, but did not do so adequately.  Fact is, San Rafael's traffic problems which have "critical mass" would have done so without SMART, but as always, the locals "blame the railroad."  Central San Rafael has an antiquated street grid which has not been helped by the office building development downtown.  Everything coming off of 101 is dumped into what is essentially a one-lane traffic system.  Turning Second and Third into one-way streets served only as a stop-gap measure that is now beyond capacity.  In short, the city street system is itself a bottleneck.  This is in large measure a result of the street grid.  Had Central San Rafael been built in the early 1960's like Terra Linda, it would have been possible to channel freeway traffic coming in and going out like in Terra Linda, with off ramps emptying into two and three lane boulevards and on ramps fed by the same.  This cannot be accomplished in Central San Rafael because they have developed themselves out of that option and condemning land to do so under eminent domain would require gutting a huge portion of the city.  Now, with routine SMART operation on the horizon, they want more time to try to solve what may well be an insoluble problem.

Comment by Richard C. Brand on February 7, 2017 at 9:31am

A NIMBY thing from San Rafael.  But Mansourian is already set up to deny the request writing: "People voted for it to go to Larkspur. People have been paying taxes for it.”

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