Friends of the Alto Tunnel

Author Rick Coates

I had some time yesterday before the well attended (250 people) Friends of the Alto Tunnel event to walk from the San Rafael SMART station to the Larkspur SMART station and check out the construction of the extension.  All of the track, save that at the San Rafael transit center is in and switches are being installed.  Ballast has been laid but is not yet even with the top of the ties.

The rails for the 2nd Street crossing have been attached to ties and the assembly is sitting on top of the already laid rails through the Transit Center ready to move to the roadway which will be closed over the weekend.  Ballast will then be added to the rails in the Transit Center and made even with the ties.

The Larkspur Station appears complete except for communications and vending machines and connecting roadways, parking and pedestrian walks.

The bicycle path is nearly complete and connected at Anderson Ave. to the existing trail to Larkspur.

When the construction is complete, signal and PTC testing will still need to be done.  Nonetheless it seems likely that the project will be completed as scheduled by the end of 2019.

I also walked Anderson Ave.  It has a wide sidewalk and unprotected bike lanes on each side.  Traffic is heavy and moving at 30 to 40 MPH.  Death trap.  Bicyclist tend to use the sidewalk.  Anderson is walled on each side forming an urban canyon that traps the auto and truck fumes making for an unpleasant and unhealthy walk or ride.  Traffic engineers should be required to walk or bike to work every day.

The Friends of the Alto Tunnel event featured a talk by Bob Ravasio, Mayor of Corte Madera who suffered serious injuries when a driver forced him of the edge of the road recently.  Six months in the hospital.  Opening the Alto Tunnel would connect to very long sections of bicycle trail from Sausalito to San Anselmo and avoid the present curvy, steep and dangerous “Bike Route” over Camino Alto.  The event also featured a film promoting an open Alto Tunnel which will soon be posted on the websites of Friends of the Alto Tunnel, the Marin County Bicycle Coalition and EcoRing.