A repaved Highway 1 is not the only thing West Marin citizens are getting out of a Caltrans repaving plan: They are also enjoying a receptive dialogue with the state’s department of transportation.
According to Ken Levin, president of the Point Reyes Station Village Association, Caltrans staff have put in many hours to ensure that the project suits the people it will affect. The estimated $24.5 million project will overlay asphalt on 15 miles of road, including through Tomales and Point Reyes Station.
The scope of the preventive maintenance project includes pavement rehabilitation, improved drainage and improved disability access. Design is scheduled to wrap up by the end of this year; in 2022, funding will be allocated and Caltrans will solicit bids and award a contract. Construction, which is slated to last about a year, will commence in April 2023.
Project representatives, including zoning specialists and landscape architects, shared updated plans in two Zoom meetings last month, in Point Reyes Station and in Tomales. The conceptual plan for downtown Point Reyes Station is 65 percent complete, and reflects public input gathered since March 2020.
Comments from Point Reyes Station residents centered on three areas of concern: the Mesa Road and Highway 1 intersection, the sidewalk and landscaping outside West Marin School, and the easement and drainage systems outside both the Palace Market and the Grandi building.
Plans for the Mesa Road crossing underwent the biggest change as a result of public comment. Now, a pedestrian-controlled crossing signal will be installed in both directions. The crosswalk will have a bulb-out design on each corner, reducing pedestrian crossing distance and narrowing the roadway. The sidewalk that runs up the hill toward the school will be raised and relandscaped, helping to provide more of a barrier for pedestrians, including the school children who use it daily. To improve drainage, culverts and ditches along the sidewalk will be cleaned and restored. A raised curb will be required to control water flow from Manana Way.
The repaving of sidewalks usually requires an update to curb height, but the Point Reyes Station Community Plan reflects a desire to maintain the rural character of the town. A clause on street-side improvement standards states, “Urban standard curb, gutter and sidewalk improvements are incompatible with rural road improvement standards and should be used only sparingly. The community desires to minimize such improvements in order to preserve the rural character of the town.”
After initially pushing back on the curb issue, Caltrans dropped its opposition to maintaining current sidewalk heights outside the Palace Market and the Grandi building. Flooding will be mitigated in those sections by reconstructing the existing curbs and sidewalk. Encroachment rights have not yet been granted for the Palace, but plans have been drawn. At the Grandi building, the sidewalk will be leveled, and the location is being scouted as a future bus stop location, according to Caltrans project manager Eddie Kim.
Wendy Kallins, a Forest Knolls resident and the project coordinator of Safe Routes to Schools Marin, expressed her appreciation for the agency’s receptivity to public comment. “The most important issues to us have been included in this project. It’s going to be a lot safer,” she said.
According to Mr. Kim, Caltrans hopes to share a 95 percent completed plan in November. By that point, changes are unlikely to be made.
A newsletter from the Tomales Town Hall this week noted that repaving plans for the town have also been updated. New speed indicators will be placed along Highway 1 and sidewalk corners and crosswalks will be improved downtown. The newsletter said Caltrans has been sensitive to local input.
Although the design phase of the project is coming to an end, there is still a matter that citizens of Point Reyes Station can have a say in. Sidewalk entrance ramps are a requirement under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the standard color is bright yellow. Yet Wesley Bexton, a landscape architect for Caltrans, said the historic nature of the town allows the agency to explore alternative colors. Tomales residents chose colonial red for their sidewalk ramps.
The Point Reyes Station Village Association will discuss the repaving plan during its regular meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. To participate, visit www.pointreyesstation.org.