For a brief few moments last Friday morning, passers-by were treated to an impressive display of crane-operating dexterity as a 100-foot bike and pedestrian bridge was placed across Coyote Creek along Shoreline Highway near Tennessee Valley Road.
The bridge drop was the most noticeable piece to date of the , which seeks to connect the Mill Valley-Sausalito multi-use path, Tennessee Valley Road and Tam Junction for bicyclists and pedestrians. The lion’s share of the $4.6 million project is federally funded.
Crews are pouring a concrete floor this week on the new span, which is scheduled to open next Friday. The new bridge replaces the existing bridge on the other side of Shoreline near the . That bridge doesn’t comply with Americans with Disability Act regulations because of its steep grade, though it will remain open.
The larger project has a number of additional components, including: a raised boardwalk along Coyote Creek that allows for safe passage during high tide on both sides of Shoreline Hwy.; an offshoot path near connecting the path to Shoreline closer to Hwy.101, near the Manzanita Park & Ride. The project's linchpin is the traffic signal at the intersection, a component without which the whole thing likely wouldn't have been approved, county officials said.
But when the bridge opens later this week, local bike and pedestrian advocates say that despite significant progress, much more needs to be done to make Tam Junction less dangerous for bicyclists and pedestrians. The bridge and related improvements dead end into a parking lot behind TJ’s Crossfit gym and , while the bike lane along Almonte Boulevard dead ends near the .
“It’s a world class path – it looks great,” Tam Valley resident and bike advocate Kathy McLeod said of the bridge and new path. “But it’s incredibly important to look at the whole picture and close these crucial gaps.”
Local and county officials are working to do just that. The Transportation Authority of Marin’s executive committee met Monday to discuss a number of projects that could be eligible for federal One Bay Area Grant funding. At the urging of District 3 Supervisor Kate Sears, a $175,000 study of possible bike-ped improvements along Shoreline was among them. If the TAM board backs the study, it will be part of an existing study to evaluate pedestrian needs in this area to satisfy the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). TAM is discussing with Caltrans the possibility of expanding the scope of the ADA study to include bicycle access and pedestrian improvements as well.
The TAM board won’t formally approve the OBAG-funded projects until the fall, according to TAM Executive Director Diane Steinhauser.
“We’ve been working very hard to knit together the bike and pedestrian improvements in that area – and this is a significant gap for us right now,” said Tam commissioner and Mill Valley City Councilmember Stephanie Moulton-Peters.
McLeod said she remains concerned that for students riding their bikes home from to Tam Valley, for example, the bike path along Almonte dead ends before the Tam Junction intersection, forcing them off their bikes to walk around a utility pole, and across Shoreline at the traffic light. To connect to the new Tennessee Valley project, people would have to weave their way through the shopping centers or ride along the shoulder of Shoreline.
The Tennessee Valley project is set to open in phases. The construction of a raised boardwalk for pedestrians and bicyclists east of Shoreline due to environmental protections for the California Clapper Rail bird. The boardwalk construction will force the closure of the path along Coyote Creek while it’s being built, county officials said. The entire project is scheduled to finish by the end of the November, according to county Public Works Director Bob Beaumont.
The Tam Valley area is set to be a buzz of activity this summer. In addition to the rest of the bike-ped work and the installation of a traffic light at the Shoreline-Tennessee Valley intersection, county officials are hosting a meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the to update residents on plans to install a traffic signal and related improvements at Shoreline Hwy. and Flamingo Rd., which is schedule for this summer. That project is estimated to cost $525,000.
A new bicycle/pedestrian bridge was lowered in to place on Friday morning by a giant crane on the west side of Shoreline Highway over Coyote Creek to connect the new and improved multiuse pathway to Tam Junction.