County of Marin - News Releases - Sir Francis Drake Boulevard

For Immediate Release
May 07, 2020

Work Starts Soon on Drake Boulevard Rehabilitation

Stretch between Ross and Highway 101 to undergo 18-month transformation

San Rafael, CA – After years of planning and public outreach, the Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW) is accelerating plans to rehabilitate 2.2 miles of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard between Highway 101 and the Ross’ southern town limit, an 18-month project that will include many safety enhancements. The cost is expected to be about $18 million.

A street-level view of the intersection at Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and College Avenue in Kentfield.Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, including this area near College of Marin in Kentfield, will undergo a significant rehabilitation over the next two years.

The Marin County Board of Supervisors is poised to award a contract to the lowest responsible bidder during its May 12 meeting. Work is expected to start sometime in June with replacement of the Marin Municipal Water District pipeline, which was originally installed in 1920.

The Sir Francis Drake Boulevard Rehabilitation Project consists of various physical modifications to the corridor. In addition to repaving, the project consists of pedestrian/cyclist safety improvements, striping, intersection and signal improvements, landscaping, traffic operation improvements, utility infrastructure improvements, and new street lighting. The final environmental impact report (EIR) for the project was approved by the Board of Supervisors in May 2018.

Although the schedule has not been finalized, construction is being accelerated to take advantage of lighter-than-normal traffic conditions during the pandemic. DPW will continue to monitor traffic conditions as changes unfold with shelter-in-place restrictions.

The project was bid as nighttime work to minimize disruptions to peak traffic flow in the corridor. If traffic conditions permit, there will be daytime work as well to reduce nighttime noise disturbance in nearby neighborhoods. Once school campuses reopen and more workers resume their commutes, daytime working hours will be reduced and/or eliminated if needed.

“Every effort will be made to reduce the impacts on the residents who live near Sir Francis Drake, those who operate businesses on the corridor, and those who regularly travel on it,” said DPW Principal Civil Engineer Eric Miller.

Community members can learn about the project and stay up to date on construction activities at www.upgradethedrake.com. Those interested can sign up to receive regular project email updates through the website.

The County will have a virtual open house from 5-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 26, to provide information about the project and answer questions. Information and details about how to register and participate in the virtual open house will be available on the project website in the next week.

The original cost estimate for the project was $21.3 million. Bid prices were lower than estimated in part because of the relatively low price of oil at the time of bid opening. COVID-19 has greatly impacted the construction and material industries over the past few months.

The Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) allocated $14.5 million for the project from its Major Roads Project Fund. Those funds come from the Measure A transportation sales tax, which passed in 2004. County staff secured approximately $3,465,000 from other stakeholders including the County Service Area 17 (Kentfield-Larkspur), the Marin County Street Light Fund, MCI/Verizon, and various grants. The Marin Municipal Water District agreed to reimburse the County for the base bid amount of $3 million for replacement of their its pipeline as well all other associated costs. Public Works staff continues to work with TAM, the City of Larkspur, and other stakeholders to seek additional funding to offset the $3.3 million impact to the County’s Road & Bridge Capital Improvement Fund.

Sir Francis Drake Boulevard was one of the major roads identified as needing extensive rehabilitation in the Measure A Expenditure Plan in 2006. DPW began initial planning of the project in 2014 with background research, preliminary analysis, and the implementation of a robust public outreach process. A community advisory committee was convened of local business landowners, homeowner associations, and school associations to provide feedback. Five large-scale community meetings and two public walking tours of the corridor were held, and the public had seven months to review and comment on the draft EIR. The collected public input was addressed in the subsequent final EIR.

“We’ve understood from the start that conducting such a project on one of Marin’s busiest roadways was going to disrupt the normal routine,” said Board of Supervisors President Katie Rice, who represents the Ross Valley area where the project is located. “Patience will be required as we allow the crews to get this work done. We hope everybody keeps in mind how much better and safer this area will be once this project is completed.”

Contact:

Eric Miller
Principal Civil Engineer
Public Works

3501 Civic Center Drive.
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6354
Email: Eric Miller
Public Works website