California's Cal Park Hill Tunnel opens soon

Tunnel reduces risk to cyclists and walkers; encourages alternative transport

California’s Marin County will complete a bicycle and pedestrian tunnel, which will allow cyclists and walkers safe passage between the cities of San Rafael and Larkspur this fall.

The Cal Park Hill Tunnel is scheduled to fully open in October and is designed to encourage alternative transportation modes.

Without the tunnel cyclists were forced to ride on a high-traffic off ramp toward San Quentin. The tunnel provides a virtually flat, safe and short route between the cities that encourages non-motorized transportation, according to Andy Peri of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC).

The MCBC was founded in 1998 with a goal of improving Marin County’s facilities for cyclists and pedestrians. It promotes physical activity, bike-safety, a reduction in road congestion and pollution by bringing affordable modes of transportation to low-income neighborhoods.

The MCBC has been involved in the Cal Park Hill Tunnel project since its inception ten years ago.

“The Cal Park Hill Tunnel was one of our organization's first campaigns,” said Peri. “Our involvement became a major campaign when the Golden Gate Bridge District made an attempt at putting a parking lot in front of the tunnel…. A parking lot would impede efforts for opening the tunnel. MCBC prevailed in this campaign and no parking lot was built.”

The Cal Park Hill Tunnel is an old railroad tunnel, which was repurposed for cost $25 million. It now combines a SMART rail on one side and the bicycle and pedestrian path on the other. The two tunnels are physically separated for safety. The bike and pedestrian tunnel is also lighted with call boxes and security monitors.

The MCBC considers the Cal Park Hill tunnel its latest success, but is involved in dozens of other cycling-friendly campaigns such as the Marin County’s federal non-motorized transportation pilot program, building the North-South Greenway, the East-West Greenway, Complete Streets Program, implementing an adopted bicycle and pedestrian master plan, improving bridge access and building a Marin County-wide alternative transportation plan.

The group hopes that each successfully implemented project offers credence to the alternative transportation movement.

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