Larkspur has some of the worst roadways in Marin County, according to a report by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. City leaders, however, can already see a day when Larkspur will have the best-rated streets in the county.
The city took a giant step toward that goal Friday with the grand re-opening of Doherty Drive, one of the Twin Cities' major traffic arteries. The road has been closed between Magnolia Avenue and Lucky Drive for nearly two months and was scheduled to be closed through Nov. 30.
"I didn't want to have this road closed one day, not one hour, longer than needed," Larkspur Director of Public Works Hamid Shamsapour told an eager audience Friday in the parking lot at the Twin Cities Police Station.
Ghilotti Construction crews sometimes worked seven days a week to finish a month ahead of schedule and beat the winter rains. Ghilotti narrowly beat the rains this week as crews wrapped up paving last weekend. The contractor also earned an incentive it was offered by the City for finishing early.
Shamsapour joined Mayor Len Rifkind and City Council members Ann Morrison and Dan Hillmer and City Manager Dan Schwarz in cutting the ribbon to allow the first car to officially travel the new street. A few other cars sneaked through earlier, however.
"This is the kind of improvement Larkspur needs to have," Mayor Rifkind said.
The project has accomplished the following:
- Repaired and resurfaced the roadway.
- Repaired the street drainage system.
- Raised the level of the road to minimize winter flooding.
- Replaced 1,210 feet of aging Marin Municipal Water District lines.
- Added a 12 ft. reinforced concrete pedestrian walkway.
- Replaced existing asphalt sidewalk with a reinforced concrete sidewalk.
- Added bike lanes on both sides of the roadway.
- Re-striped the roadway.
- Added 20 new street lights.
- Installed new fencing on the north side to protect the marsh.
- Installed two new bus pads and two new benches at each bus stop.
- Installed two solar-powered digital speed limit signs.
- Added two flashing beacons at school crossings.
- Added new landscaping.
"For me, public healthy and safety is No. 1 and No. 2 is quality of life for parents, students, teachers, everyone who uses (Doherty)," Shamsapour said. "It's a complete street. It offers something for everyone."
With one project finished, Shamsapour is ready to focus on the next one: retrofitting the historic Alexander Street Bridgein 2013. Shamsapour has three additional bridges one his to-do list: Bon Air Bridge, Doherty Bridge and the pedestrian bridge slated to span Sir Francis Drake Boulevard near the old trestle bridge.
Shamsapour says he has at least partial funding from the MTC and from federal sources for these projects.
"If I have the money, If I'm given the money, in 5-10 years Larkspur will have the highest-rated streets in the county. … $1.5 million a year for the next 10 years is what I need," Shamsapour said. "We'll go back to the voters next year (with a bond measure).
"If we go to the taxpayers with a bond measure asking for $1.5 million a year for 10 years, that's $15 million, I can make the Larkspur streets' ratings go high if not the highest around. It's just a matter of funding," he added.
The MTC ranked Larkspur's roughly 35 miles of streets as among the worst in Marin County for the second year in a row. Larkspur earned 44 points on a scale of 1 (the worst) to 100 (the best).
"It's not a surprise to me. We have so many bridges, a lot of our roadway funds had to be spent on bridges to keep them safe," Shamsapour said. "We do need a serious infusion of cash to fix (the roads), patch them, take care of them the way we want to. They're not pretty, we know that.
Shamsapour added: "The roads are old, brittle, aged, cracked. Everything has a limited life expectancy. With the traffic and the weather and the conditions, that expectancy's maybe 10-20 years. Some of these streets haven't been repaved for 30-40 years. … They just need replacement. It's a national phenomenon."