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Multi-Million Dollar Bike Tunnel to Open

Published May 6, 2010

FAIRFAX, CA (BRAIN)—Swobo’s Sky Yaeger, WTB’s Patrick Seidler and Breezer’s Joe Breeze were among a select group that recently toured the Cal Park Hill Tunnel in Marin County to get a firsthand look at the $13 million bicycle/pedestrian portion.

The tunnel goes from downtown San Rafael to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal and mimics bikeways popular in Europe that are like bicycle freeways, said Tom Boss, membership director of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, who organized the tour. “You can get to a destination faster,” he added. “This tunnel will shave 15 minutes off of people’s commute to the ferry,” compared to driving.

The state-of-the-art, mile-long tunnel is wired so cell phones work inside. Emergency buttons throughout were included to increase safety, and the walls are coated with graffiti-proof material and video cameras.

The current route takes cyclists by the 580 exit, a dangerous stretch of road where cars zoom by at 55 mph.

Part of a larger $27 million project, which includes a companion pathway for an upcoming light rail system, it’s one of several old train tunnels that the Marin County Bicycle Coalition in partnership with Transportation Alternatives for Marin and the County of Marin, have been trying to retrofit for bicycle/pedestrian use. This project broke ground in September 2008 and should be open for use by October, Boss said. The tunnel is mostly completed, but approaches are being built over the next four months.

Boss said the project had multiple funding sources including federal, state and county. The light rail had its own source of funding, which covered half of the total $27 million cost.

“It is truly amazing to see a project of this caliber specifically created for alternative transportation in Marin County,” Boss said. “The time savings and separated route should encourage more people to ride bikes to work, to shop and for local errands.”

—Lynette Carpiet

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