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Transportation officials approved a $3.05 million grant Wednesday to support safety improvements at a key intersection along San Rafael’s Miracle Mile.

The project, estimated at $4 million, is for the busy intersection of Second and Fourth Streets in the city’s West End area. It is designed as a supplement to the larger $20 million Third Street rehabilitation project that has been underway since March.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission approved the funding as part of $302 million a One Bay Area Grant package for transportation and planning projects throughout the region.

“The intersection at Fourth Street is sort of the gateway from West Marin,” said April Miller, the city’s director of public works. “This project is envisioned as the final step to finishing this corridor.”

Miller said that, conceptually, the Second and Fourth Streets intersection improvements had always been part of the overhaul. However, the desired project features required additional funding. City officials decided to separate the project to seek grants.

Fourth Street is the city’s downtown retail shopping strip. West of that central hub, the street is an arterial serving as a commuter corridor carrying nearly 20,000 vehicles a day to Highway 101, according to the city.

The intersection at Second and Fourth streets has five traffic signal phases, awkwardly angled crossings and out-of-date sidewalks and pedestrian crossings. Miller said the mid-20th century corridor has outlived its useful life.

Pedestrians cross the intersection of Second Street and Fourth Street in San Rafael on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)
Pedestrians cross the intersection of Second Street and Fourth Street in San Rafael on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

The safety project will reconfigure the streets to meet at a T-intersection that will shorten crossing distances for bicyclists and pedestrians. The project is expected create better accessibility and improve traffic flow.

The completion of a class IV bikeway connection from West Street to West End Avenue is also part of the plan. A class IV bike lane is separated from vehicle traffic by a barrier. It will connect to the bikeway that is being constructed on the south side of Second Street between West and Shaver streets as part of the larger Third Street overhaul. It also connects to the Greenfield Avenue bike path.

Warren Wells, policy and advocacy director of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, said the conceptual designs look like the project will improve travel for cyclists to and from western Marin.

“Currently, bicyclists traveling from Fourth Street to West End (Avenue) to get to Greenfield have to navigate a complex maze through an intersection not designed to accommodate people riding bikes,” Wells said. “We’re pleased with the direction that the city is headed at the moment.”

The larger project will overhaul Third Street between Union and Second streets and Second Street between West and Shaver streets. That project includes repaving; replacing and adding traffic signals; and extending sidewalks near intersections to improve safety for pedestrians.

Amy Likover of the Federation of San Rafael Neighborhoods said the city has done a great job noticing residents with weekly construction updates.

“I am personally disappointed that roundabouts were not included in the planning,” Likover said. “They slow down traffic and offer opportunities for beautification. Sure hope there is space for that in the next project.”

City officials are planning a teleconference at 7 p.m. Thursday to review the most recent design for the Second and Fourth Street intersection project.

The project design is expected to be completed this summer and could be ready for construction by the end of the year, Miller said.

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San Rafael nets $3M grant for West End safety project

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