The opening day of the Doherty Drive shutdown went off virtually without a hitch, according to traffic patrols assigned to the area in Larkspur on Tuesday.
Well, there was reportedly one hiccup. The nesting California Clapper Rail was the first major delay to the project. Another bird seems to have caused another — minor — change to the plans.
Other than that, everything was pretty much fine on the first day of a major street closure which is expected to last until Nov. 30.
"All the advertising paid off," according to San Anselmo Police Sgt. Grady Joseph, who patrolled the area. "Except for a couple of drivers, who were pretty understanding, everyone seemed to know what was going on."
Sgt. Joseph was called to help control traffic during an apartment fire Tuesday morning on Larkspur Plaza Drive, which intersects Doherty Drive.
Bright banners on Magnolia Avenue, Tamal Vista Boulevard, even near the Bon Air Bridge warned residents of the project which started Tuesday. The City of Larkspur kept residents informed through its website for the past several weeks.
The construction is designed to not only fix the numerous potholes which have made Doherty Drive locally infamous, but to minimize flooding during high tides and the wet winter season. The Doherty Drive Bridge is expected to be repaired during a separate part of the project at a later date in 2014.
The plan also calls for new pedestrian walkways, although crews had to make a slight change to that part of the strategy. A resident asked workers to not cut down a tree near the Tamiscal High School parking lot where a hawk has a nest. The workers reportedly agreed and will tweak plans for the walkway around the tree.
Crews completed the first phase of the construction ahead of schedule in August. That phase included an area of Doherty Drive near Magnolia Avenue, but the area was never completely closed to traffic, even during construction.
The second phase shuts down an area of Doherty Drive between the Doherty Drive Bridge and Lucky Drive, but there is still some access to the Redwood High School parking lots and to the Larkspur Marina neighborhood. Access to Piper Park is still wide open.
The shutdown did affect the evening commute slightly, forcing more traffic onto Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and Magnolia Avenue. There were reports from witnesses of at least one small traffic accident.
“We realize back-to-school is a tough time of year to have a road closure, yet our schedule must accommodate the nesting cycles of the endangered California Clapper Rail, a rare bird that is important our community’s ecosystem,“ said Hamid Shamsapour, Director of Larkspur’s Public Works Department. “We will work quickly and efficiently in order to minimize any inconvenience and impact on both people and the environment.”
Larkspur City and Redwood school officials hope students will discover the bicycle and walking paths around the area.
"I'm hoping people will take this chance to make some life-long health changes," Shamsapour said. "This is a good opportunity for people to get out of their cars."
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