In late 2013, The Coalition’s Roadway Committee in response to concerns expressed by East San Rafael residents regarding traffic in the vicinity of the 101 Freeway, formed the Traffic Mitigation Subcommittee to address these issues along with other matters affecting the Point San Pedro Road/Third Street/101 Freeway corridor. In September 2014, the name of this subcommittee was changed to the Traffic Management Subcommittee.
The Subcommittee developed a set of goals and recommendations that would benefit all (not just East San Rafael residents) who use the streets in the vicinity of the freeway. In January 2014, The Roadway Committee and the Traffic Mitigation Subcommittee met with the San Rafael City Manager and Director of Public Works to begin to review and discuss the recommendations developed by the Subcommittee to address the traffic congestion problems in that area.
The Traffic Congestion Mitigation Subcommittee’s goals and recommendations for this project were:
- Improved safety for pedestrians and drivers. The current situation is resulting in frustrated drivers using unsafe driving practices. This endangers both pedestrians and fellow drivers.
- Improved levels of traffic flow through the major hubs in this corridor including better coordination of signals, removal of parking and better management of sidewalks.
- Better traffic guidance including new and improved signage and better street markings to ensure maximum throughput in high traffic times.
- Increased awareness of longer-term issues affecting the corridor so we can proactively find solutions before there are problems. This includes, among others, construction vehicles associated with the housing/retail project in Loch Lomond as well as the impending arrival of the SMART Train that will also bring additional construction and employee vehicles at the same time.
- Elimination of some parking spots to allow cars to queue up to turn thus allowing non-turning cars to move on.
- 3rd between Grand and Irwin, both sides, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Allow traffic to go straight from the left-turn lane at Grand during the hours that parking is eliminated on the south side of Third Street between Grand and Irwin. This would also create an additional lane and improve traffic flow.
- At least 3 spaces on Third Street prior to the Fire Station and 3 spaces approaching Irwin (in front of the Little Mandarin Restaurant.
- Commercial vehicles and cars for sale along Third Street
- Eliminate all parking in front of SRHS during rush hour (7am-9am) to create an additional lane and thus improve traffic flow through the stoplight.
- Signal Synchronization
- Operate with flow of traffic (i.e. smart signals) and push button signals for pedestrians
- 3rd & Union and 3rd & Heatherton
- Clear Lane Markings
- Better lane markings and signage above lanes (under 101 & on surface onto Heatherton)
- Crosswalk Modification
- Eliminate crosswalk across Heatherton, south side, at Transit Center
- San Rafael High School Suggestions
- Relocate school bus drop off in a different location (other than CVS and Transit Center); e.g., front side of High School (near Gym) or a different place along Grand or 4th Street
- Crossing guard(s) for High School student traffic
- Continued education of High School students on traffic problems and their role in helping to solve them
The Public Works Director agreed to study the Subcommittee’s recommendations after which time he agreed to implement:
- A trial removal of parking on Third Street between Grand Avenue and Irvin Street in front of United Market on weekdays between 7am and 7pm.
- Elimination of two parking spaces on Third Street in front of the fire station than would extend the right turn queuing lane 0nto Union Street.
The Public Works Director wanted to examine the impact of traffic resulting from these two actions before considering implementation of additional strategies.
The Roadway Committee believes implementation of these two actions has greatly improved traffic flow in the Third Street corridor and will continue to monitor the situation and work with City staff on further changes should they become necessary.
The Traffic Management Subcommittee is also very interested in monitoring the traffic strategies that the City will propose to use in minimizing the impacts of pedestrian and vehicular traffic in connection with the start of SMART train service in late 2016.