SMART, San Rafael OK 1st leg of bike path to Larkspur

Work is set to begin next month on the Larkspur extension and will now include a multi-use path as part of a tentative agreement reached this week between SMART and San Rafael city officials. (Robert Tong/Marin Independent Journal)

Contractors building the Larkspur extension of the SMART train will do double duty to incorporate construction of a bike and pedestrian pathway at the same time, under a tentative agreement reached this week after months of uncertainty.

The agreement, between officials of SMART — or Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit — and the city of San Rafael, covers the area of the pathway from Andersen to Rice drives where the train tracks and the bike path are side by side. Work is set to begin next month and cost the city $4.6 million, plus about $900,000 as a 20 percent contingency — or a total of about $5.47 million.

The rest of the total 1.6-mile bike path, which is not directly adjacent to the SMART extension construction, will be done at a later date.

“This is a success story for the city,” said former Marin County supervisor Steve Kinsey, a consultant to San Rafael on downtown transit issues, in an email. “Against great odds, they met SMART’s requirement to fully design, permit and fund the trail. They absorbed the financial risk for much of the design and environmental clearance.”

Kinsey added that the SMART-San Rafael deal is the first step to “a safe, direct biking route through this area (that) will be well used, with bike commuters being able to get from home to the (Larkspur) ferry faster than by auto.

“Students at Davidson (Middle School in San Rafael) and San Rafael High (School) will also utilize this section of the greenway regularly.”

Read More