Thursday, December 9, 2010

$100 Million sought for roads, bikes, pedestrians

Wednesday, December 8, 2010 
Marin IJ article

Marin County officials, perhaps caught up in the spirit of the season, asked the federal government for a New Year's present this week.

How about handing over more than $100 million for bike path, pedestrian, road and bridge projects? Or maybe twice that much to cover a wide range of other needs as well?

The Board of Supervisors after brief discussion Tuesday endorsed a legislative program for 2011 that seeks $50 million to continue the nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program, which got $25 million from the federal government in 2005 to create a network of bike and pedestrian path improvements. A complete bike and pedestrian network in Marin would cost $220 million, county staff said.

In addition, the board will join with the Transportation Authority of Marin to seek $50 million from the federal government to proceed with the Novato Narrows carpool lane and bike path project.

And federal funding is needed to replace the Pacific Way Bridge in Muir Beach, move ahead with flood improvements in the Ross Valley and Santa Venetia, build a public safety facility, restore Hamilton Field wetlands and the Bolinas Lagoon ecosystem, research breast cancer in Marin and pay for Muir Woods shuttle services, the board agreed as it endorsed a shopping list spanning projects in each supervisor's district.

In a nod to state budget woes, the county board doesn't expect Santa's sack to hold much from Sacramento, so officials say
Marin's tin cup will carry a more modest request: Don't cut our revenue.

The board told staff to focus on several state legislative proposals, including allowing the county pension system to become a special district, separating it from the board's purview. The board also wants to ease state affordable housing requirements by reclassifying the county as a "suburban" rather than metropolitan area. In addition, supervisors want state permission to seek voter approval of an eighth-cent sales tax boost to pay for wildland fire protection. Current law limits sales tax increases to increments of a quarter-cent.

Other Marin priorities for state legislators include monitoring parolee releases, halting death row expansion at San Quentin State Prison, banning plastic bags, allowing residents to "opt out" of the SmartMeter program, implementing health care reform and helping Marin General Hospital meet seismic requirements.

The board also agreed with a staff analysis that overall priorities involving state and federal governments next year will include protecting existing revenue, transportation programs, climate change projects, flood protection, and health care and pension reform.

Although officials don't expect Santa to deliver all they have asked for, the legislative program outlines the county's wish list.

"In a quick read someone can see what our priorities are," Supervisor Steve Kinsey noted of a staff report.

Contact Nels Johnson via e-mail at