March 22, 2022
Marin projects receive federal funding
Money OK for San Rafael Canal Dredging, East Sir Francis Drake Blvd. bike path
San Rafael, California – Two major infrastructure projects in San Rafael will go ahead with an influx of federal dollars.
Last week President Joe Biden signed HR 2471[External]the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, which included $6.75 million for the dredging of the San Rafael Canal and $700,000 for a bike path and security measure along East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.
The dredging funds were appropriated under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (City of San Rafael jurisdiction) 2022 Operations and Maintenance Work Plan. Money from the closure of the Drake Boulevard transportation gap was appropriated as part of the Department of Transportation’s Community Project Funding/Congression-directed funding (Marin County jurisdiction).
The last time the canal was fully dredged was in 2002, although partial dredging took place in 2011. The City of San Rafael worked closely with county supervisors, U.S. Representative Jared Huffman and the army corps to get the long-awaited tax appropriation. The federal government had operated under ongoing budget resolutions for the first five months of the fiscal year before the bill was signed on March 15.
“This extremely important project would allow the chain to continue its vital role in San Rafael’s commerce, entertainment and public safety,” said San Rafael Mayor Kate Colin. “This is a fantastic example of local government working closely with our federal partners to get things done for our community.”
Authorized by the federal government in 1918[External], the canal is the responsibility of the Army Corps to maintain a shipping channel in San Francisco Bay. The canal is not only a recreational and economic draw, but also fulfills a vital public safety need for San Rafael police and firefighter rescue boats responding to emergency incidents. The city also maintains seven stormwater pump stations that drain floodwater directly into the canal, including from the adjacent canal district of 12,000 residents. Depths in the inner channel vary but can range from zero to 2.5 feet at low tide. The dredging project would restore federally permitted depths of 6 to 8 feet.
The $700,000 for the Drake Boulevard Gap Closure Project was approved by the federal Department of Transportation as one of nine district projects requested by Huffman. Money from the gap closure will be used by the Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW) to investigate project alternatives for a bicycle/pedestrian network along Drake Boulevard between the Remillard Park waterfront in Larkspur (between the ferry terminal and San Quentin State Prison) and Andersen Drive in San Rafael. The segment, which is less than a mile long, is the last remaining space in an otherwise continuous bike/pedestrian path between the most popular bike paths in central Marin and the East Bay via the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge . The funding will also cover the subsequent design and environmental review of the chosen alternative.
“This project will not only fill a key gap in the Bay Trail[External]but it will also provide cyclists with safe and direct access to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Bike Path, Larkspur Ferry Terminal and nearby SMART Station,” said County Supervisor Dennis Rodoni, whose District 4 includes the project area. “We owe a huge thank you to Congressman Huffman for his continued advocacy and support of this project.”
Both projects represent an ongoing partnership between Marin County and the City of San Rafael to secure federal funding and prioritization of projects that benefit the area. During the fiscal year 2022-23 budget development process last spring, City staff submitted a letter of support for the county’s Gap Reduction Project, and the county submitted a letter of support for the dredging of the channel.
This press release was produced by the Marin County Government. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.