In response to community concerns about noise the San Rafael and Novato City Councils have established a Quiet Zone effective immediately. The train horn will not blow at railroad crossings.

Downtown Transit Center Relocation

Request for Proposals

The Golden Gate Bridge District just released a Request for Proposals for the San Rafael Transportation Center Relocation Analysis, Environmental Clearance & Preliminary Design Services. 

  • Pre-proposal conference: Tuesday, June 20 at 2:00 p.m.
  • Due date: Tuesday, July 18 at 4:00 p.m.

Background

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District (Golden Gate Transit) owns the downtown Bettini Transit Center (bus station) which will be significantly disrupted as a part of SMART’s extension to Larkspur. The City is part of a working group with Golden Gate Transit, Marin Transit, SMART, Transportation Authority of Marin and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to develop an interim and permanent plan for a new transit center in Downtown San Rafael. These agencies have been working collaboratively towards this purpose since early 2015. The interim plan would be necessary should SMART’s extension to Larkspur precede the completion of a permanent transit center. 

The transit center relocation study, prepared by transportation consulting firm Kimley-Horn and Associates was presented to the San Rafael City Council at their public meeting of November 17, 2016.  The full presentation is below. There have also been public presentations at several of the transit agency board meetings.    

In 2012, the City prepared a conceptual Station Area Plan for the area around the future SMART train station which explored the idea of building a consolidated transit complex for buses and trains. This new study further develops this concept.

The transit center relocation study began in April 2015 and analyzes the impact of reestablishing the train tracks through the Bettini Transit Center. An interim solution has been developed to allow construction of the train tracks to occur as well as maintain bus service in Downtown.  The City also modeled vehicle, bus, train and pedestrian activity to determine potential impacts from this change. The transit center relocation study is now complete - San Rafael Transit Center Final Report and the final report appendices

The working group studied more than 11 different long-term alternatives for relocating the existing transit center.  The latest study has narrowed down these alternatives to three options which will be further developed and studied in the next phase of the effort.  The options are only conceptual at this time.

SMART has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to pre-qualified contractors for the design/build of the extension to Larkpur.  SMART intends to design and build the interim transit center solution, estimated to cost approximately $3.2 million, as a part of their Larkspur extension.  Funding ($3.2 million) has been allocated for this project.

Golden Gate Transit is expected to soon issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the environmental analysis and design of the permanent solution The permanent facility is estimated to cost $22-29 million. Funding has not yet been secured for the permanent solution.

In November 2016, the City Council approved a contract to hire Steve Kinsey to provide assistance with the complexities of acquiring funding for the long-term relocation.

Public Outreach

  • Staff has made presentations on the transit center study and received feedback from the public at several meetings to date, such as:
  • Staff has also made multiple presentations at the City Council meetings on related topics such as the Andersen Drive at grade crossing and the Multi-Use Path along the SMART tracks from Second Street towards Andersen Drive.
  • Between July 2010 and March 2012, the Advisory Committee on Economic Development & Affordable Housing worked on the Draft Station Area Plan at sixteen public meetings; reviewed background data; participated in two walking tours of the area; hosted two community outreach workshops, and conducted a series of presentations on the Draft Station Area Plan including presentations to the Boards of Transportation Authority of Marin and Marin Transit, the Transportation Committee of the Golden Gate Bridge and Transportation District, the San Rafael Design Review Board, and the San Rafael Planning Commission. On June 4, 2012, the CAC presented its recommended Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan to the City Council, and the City Council accepted the Plan.

Related efforts

The City has taken, and is planning to take, several actions to identify and improve conditions in and around the Bettini Transit Center. 

Actions that have taken place:

  • The City has upgraded all of the traffic signalization in and around the transit center to provide dynamic signal control at those intersections. We also installed new signal systems (queue cutters) at the major intersections in downtown that cross the SMART tracks to ensure that traffic flows with the SMART train as it enters and leaves downtown. 
  • The City has resurfaced and restriped Hetherton through San Rafael to ensure that the crosswalks and other lane marking are clearly visible.  These improvements are essential for vehicle and pedestrian safety in that area. 
  • The City has conducted extensive traffic modeling of the impact of SMART in San Rafael in order to evaluate the traffic impact of both phase 1 (to San Rafael) and phase 2 (to Larkspur).  Our traffic simulation modeling includes the train movement and the transit bus movements based on real scheduling so we have very good information about traffic impacts.  That information will be used to inform all of the additional work described below.

Upcoming actions:

  • The City is working with an engineering consultant to make recommendations for safety and traffic throughput around the transit center.  We anticipate that the evaluation will recommend traffic and signal timing improvements to make traffic flow better in that area and we will implement those changes as soon as possible. 
  • The City will soon resurface Third Street near Irwin to eliminate the rough road surface near the Shell station where heavy vehicles have rutted the road bed creating divots in the street. 
  • We will also provide “do not block the box” pavement striping to reduce the congestion that occurs from vehicles turning left from Irwin to Third.
  • The City is working with SMART on changes to West Francisco Blvd that will “flip” the train tracks with West Francisco Blvd and remove two at-grade crossings to improve traffic flow and safety in that area when SMART proceeds to Larkspur. 
  • The City is on track to receive funding to create two right turn lanes at Hetherton to Third Street to allow more southbound traffic to flow onto Third Street.
  • This Spring the City plans to reconfigure the intersection at Second and Grand Avenue to improve pedestrian safety and traffic flow to East Francisco Blvd. We will also install a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the San Rafael Canal and widen the sidewalk on East Francisco to improve pedestrian safety in that corridor.
  • Caltrans is planning to replace the northbound Central San Rafael freeway exit bridge that crosses the canal at Second and Irwin Streets.  As a part of that project, we have requested that they study and likely install two right turn lanes from the freeway exit to Second Street to alleviate the traffic congestion and mingling that occurs from people trying to go East on Second Street with those trying to get onto East Francisco Blvd. 
  • We are in the preliminary planning stages of a very significant upgrade to Third Street all the way through central San Rafael from Grand Avenue to the Miracle Mile.  While the final scope of this effort is not yet defined, it will, at a minimum improve traffic flow through central San Rafael on this heavily used corridor. 

This is a very congested area and the freeway overpass limits some of our options but please know that we are very aware of the concerns about traffic congestion in and around the transit center area and we are actively engaged making traffic improvements. As with everything we do, we will continue to engage the residents of San Rafael in vetting those improvements to ensure we get public input throughout. 

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