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Despite Progress, Gaps Seen in Tam Valley Bike-Ped Upgrades

As county’s $4.6 million Tennessee Valley-Manzanita Pathway project moves forward with the installation of a bridge across Coyote Creek, advocates say lack of contiguous route creates dangerous situation.

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.

Robin June 12, 2012 at 04:37 PM
A heart felt thank you to Supervisor Kate Sears and her aide Maureen Parton for their tireless support of Tam Valley.
Kathy McLeod June 12, 2012 at 06:11 PM
The path is a beautiful upgrade to Tam Junction. I've seen many parents taking their children there to learn how to ride bikes in the beautiful shady area along the creek already. I can't wait until Friday when this first phase is completely done and ready for the start of Creekside Fridays concerts at the Log Cabin. We are so lucky to have it right in our back yard. Thanks to past Supervisors Annette Rose and the late Charles McGlashan for making this happen and to our new Supervisor Kate Sears for continuing the vision for safe connections for pedestrians and bikes linking to the new bridge along Shoreline and to Maureen Parton their aide, who has been working with them for 10 years to make sure the path becomes a reality.
Gilda Harger June 12, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Thanks to Supervisor Kate Sears, Maureen Parton, Kathy McLeod, and all others involved with this project. It definitely a step in the right direction-Bravo!
Kathy Mcleod June 15, 2012 at 05:45 PM
John, Thanks for reaching out! I knew someone would ask this question. Yes it would seem all is well with what is being planned. All the planning has been done on the county jurisdiction. Not around the state road. But now that the state is doing a study for pedestrian/ADA access, which will end up in funding whatever is being looked at as a problem, then it is important to express our concerns as cyclists too.
Kathy Mcleod June 15, 2012 at 05:49 PM
I am a cyclists so I notice the cycling aspect of the problem. This video explains a lot about the problem coming from Almonte. http://millvalley.patch.com/articles/video-op-ed-make-tam-junction-safer-for-bicyclists I must say, it is very nice to take the path and go out to the main greenway but it needs to be safe in all directions, because people will take the shortest route and there are plenty of directions where people need to go. Fixing the barriers is important and shouldn't be costly. It amounts to striping, signage and removing a pole and/or adding a couple of feet to a sidewalk to make it a multi purpose path. The planning for this is where we are. We do need to ask for it or those simple changes will never happen. Go to the new pedestrian bridge and see what is being constructed. A simple curb ramp off of the sidewalk would make all the difference and it is not in the plan. Why? Because Flood Control owns the property and says it is a liability to have anyone in their driveway. So now kids will be riding the wrong direction against traffic on a sidewalk through busy intersections where cars are coming and going from the shopping center.

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