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San Rafael Interchange targeted for 3.3M upgrade

December 2021

Latest News - E-News

San Rafael Interchange targeted for 3.3M upgrade

December 2021

Caltrans is proposing a $3.3 million project at a Highway 101 interchange in San Rafael that would include a roundabout, a new bus stop and improved bicycle and pedestrian access.

The long-planned improvement was first pitched as a project to move the bus stop from northbound Highway 101 near the offramp at Manuel T. Freitas Parkway in Terra Linda, said Bill Guerin, the city’s director of public works. He said the bus stop is unsafe because it requires riders to cross freeway-bound traffic and it is in need of accessibility improvements.

“In the process of exploring that with us, they have now created a huge improvement to this area of San Rafael,” Guerin said of the project during recent presentation to the San Rafael City Council.

The centerpiece of the project is the proposed roundabout on the east side of the freeway at the Redwood Highway and Civic Center Drive intersection. The roundabout aims to improve traffic flow and make it safer.

The project would also move the northbound bus stop to the northbound shoulder of Redwood Highway, a frontage road parallel to the highway. A retaining wall at the corner of Redwood Highway would be extended, and a northbound pedestrian and bicycle path would be added from Civic Center Drive toward the bus stop. The pedestrian path from Redwood Highway to the bus stop will be removed.

On the other side of the freeway, the southbound bus stop would remain between the southbound onramps and offramps. Stairs to Freitas Parkway would be removed, and an accessible path would be added. A refuge median would be added to the Freitas Parkway crosswalk.

“The benefits to the city of San Rafael for this project are going to be improved safety, for not only pedestrians but vehicles as well,” said Matt Korve, an engineer with AECOM, the firm designing the project. “The improved traffic operation is going to help reduce emissions and also reduced long-term maintenance as compared to a traffic signal operation.”

The planned roundabout was unpopular with residents who participated in the presentation. Kate Powers said she was concerned that eastbound drivers turning left from Freitas Parkway to Civic Center Drive or Redwood Highway would have to compete with cars flying off Highway 101.

“You don’t really have enough time if you’re going into a roundabout that’s slow and you have this queue of cars that are trying to get to Redwood Highway,” she said. “It just scares me. It’s already scary. The thought of going into a roundabout is more scary.”

Councilwoman Maika Llorens-Gulati suggested adding stop signs for eastbound traffic coming off Freitas Parkway into the roundabout.

That could lead to more cars queueing, which could increase the likelihood of rear-end collisions, said Rafat Raie, deputy director of public works.

“It’s best to keep those movements free-flowing,” he said.

Grace Geraghty, executive director of Responsible Growth Marin, said engineers need to consider future projects such as the redevelopment of Northgate mall, which could increase traffic.

Planners said they’ve used traffic models that included projections into 2040 that incorporated pending developments in the city’s general plan.

Adrian Rodriguwz

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