|Bicycle and walking paths connecting east and west Terra Linda are closer to reality this week after the San Rafael City Council approved the master plans, but there is no money to pay for the project.|
The council on Monday implemented the first portion of the North San Rafael Promenade - restriping wider bike lanes along Manuel T. Freitas Parkway, which can be done by city staff for the cost of paint. The other improvements will take some time, city officials said.
The general estimate for the project likely would be about $1 million, city staff said, although no formal cost analysis has been done. They gave assurances, however, that the plans would be carried out when the city could afford it.
North San Rafael neighborhood groups and businesses are expected to help raise money to complete the project, said David Bernardi, San Rafael's director of public works.
The Freitas Parkway bike lanes the council approved Monday will cost a few thousand dollars and should be completed by spring, he said.
"Economic conditions right now don't allow the city to implement the (full) plan right away," Bernardi said. "There is a long-standing practice for the city to work with the community to share cost of improvement plans."
The promenade plan consists of three main features:
? A nearly two-mile bike and pedestrian path, crossing 101 at the railroad underpass.
? Amenities such as additional lighting, plazas and park improvements.
? A unifying theme, which might include historical markers or plaques detailing the cultural and natural history of Terra Linda.
Bernardi said he hoped the full promenade will be in place in 10 years.
The promenade idea grew out of series of North San Rafael Vision community meetings in 1997. One of the main recommendations from the meeting was to improve bicycle and pedestrian travel in the suburban area. The sessions also called for more community gathering places.
The plan connects the Terra Linda Recreation Center on the west to the Lagoon at the Civic Center on the east. The bike and pedestrian path will cross underneath Highway 101 at the railroad undercrossing.
Park improvements, new plazas and historical markers will accompany the promenade. The lanes for pedestrians, joggers and bicycles will be on separate paths. The jogging path will extend along Freitas Parkway from the Terra Linda Shopping Center to Las Gallinas Avenue.
Shirley Fischer, past president of the North San Rafael Coalition and a member of San Rafael Vision in Action, which formulated the promenade plan, said she was overjoyed to have the master plan approved.
"We really have a linear town center in North San Rafael," she said. "The community used to be more united before Highway 101 came in and divided it east and west. (The promenade) will give us a linking together, rediscover the spine of our community and provide us with an identity."
The promenade would eliminate parking along Freitas Parkway to make room for the bike path. This means that the few vehicles usually parked near the bus stop on the parkway would have to use side streets.
San Rafael landscape architect Brian Powell, a consultant on the plans, said the project can be completed in stages as money comes in from city, corporate or community sources over the years.
"One of the goals is to create a connection between the west side and the east side of north San Rafael," Powell said. "There are a number of opportunities in that two-mile stretch to enhance the community with parks, plazas and seating areas."
Architect Brian Wittenkeller, also a plan consultant, said it's important to have the long-range plans ready when money becomes available.
"It gives them a document to formulate a direction of future public improvements, especially those reflecting bicycle and pedestrian needs," he said. "It envisions the neighborhood in a linear form. The area is not just Northgate Shopping Center. This will make the neighborhood more connected."
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By Michael Howerton of Marin IJ
|This bus stop on Manuel T. Freitas Parkway at Las Pavadas Avenue will be near a proposed bike and pedestrian path under a new beautification plan for Terra Linda. San Rafael hopes to tie the east and west portions of the community together.|