Chamber Weighs In On San Rafael Transit Center Concepts
On behalf of the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce, which represents 625 Marin County employers with over 26,000 employees, we welcome the opportunity to provide Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District (GGBHTD) additional comments on the proposed concepts presented at the June 12th community meeting.
Option #1: Two Story Concept - We believe this concept to be the safest concept because the rider does not have to cross city streets to transfer between busses and safety is of the highest priority; however, we have grave concerns that this will not be aesthetically pleasing for the rider or the community at large. This concept would only be worth exploring if there was a guarantee that the design would act as a gateway to Downtown and the user experience was pleasant.
Option # 2: Across the Freeway Concept - This concept is desirable as it would improve a blighted area under the freeway and provides convenient pedestrian crossings to Fourth Street. This concept also allows for more flexibility and opportunities for future development by moving the focus east. Our major concern is the long walk times, especially for our aging population between bus bays and the SMART Trains. We recommend that GGBHTD study this concept further using ridership data that is provided by SMART.
Option #3: 4th Street Gateway Concept - Chamber leadership found this concept to be the least appealing. By eliminating the right hand turn onto Fourth Street from Heatherton, it creates difficult access to the Downtown area and may create more traffic on Fifth Avenue. This concept also utilizes both sides of Fourth Street and takes up prime development opportunities.
Option #4: Whistlestop Block Concept - Chamber leadership found this concept desirable. It preserves viable development sites by consolidating most bus bays on one site and provides flexibility of future transit needs. The concept also provides convenient pedestrian access to the Downtown area and can act as a gateway to Fourth Street. However, we have concerns about the impact of the additional bus bays on Third Street and believe that the design criteria to preserve the Whistlestop building is causing limitations. We ask GGBHTD and the City of San Rafael to further study this concept and possibly consider the Whistlestop building not essential in the design criteria as we believe this will open up more options.