Focus on traffic is beginning to pay off in Mill Valley

POSTED: 8/3/18

Publication: Marin Independent Journal Editorial

Traffic entering and leaving Tamalpais Valley near Mill Valley. (Jeremy Portje/special to The Marin Independent Journal) 2014

Traffic appears to be getting better around Mill Valley, but as the city’s traffic consultant cautioned, “We still have a long ways to go.”

The good news is that the city’s recent focus on improving traffic signals, bringing back citywide school buses, making changes to traffic lanes and adding bike lanes is paying off in reducing the number of vehicles and congestion.

Traffic has been a constant complaint around town, but several years ago, when the county installed a traffic signal at Shoreline Highway and Tennessee Valley Road, the number of complaints rose.

The county and Caltrans have worked to improve the timing on the new signal, but motorists have complained that congestion there has sent more traffic onto Mill Valley’s city streets.

Just like their neighbors in Belvedere and Tiburon who have pursued possible solutions to traffic on Tiburon Boulevard, Mill Valley officials made improving traffic a goal. That included working with the Mill Valley School District to implement a citywide school bus program aimed at getting kid-toting parents off the roads during commute hours.

Traffic studies across Marin have shown that around 20 percent of the morning traffic is from school-bound vehicles, often parents dropping their children off at school and returning home. The absence of that traffic is why movement is better during the summer months and school breaks.

By getting students to use dependable and affordable school buses, the city has been able to take some of that traffic off its roads.

Tiburon Peninsula officials deployed a similar strategy with similar results.

The city’s task force has focused its attention on reducing the need to get around by car, improving intersections and increasing traffic capacity, where possible.

Recent studies have shown improvements in both reducing car trips and the amount of time it takes to get across the city.

But as Mill Valley traffic consultant David Parisi cautioned officials, more work needs to be done to help improve traffic flow around the city.

Not surprisingly, the city recently heard from Sycamore Triangle residents about increased traffic on their neighborhood streets, often vehicles seeking short-cuts from clogged arterials such as Blithedale and Miller avenues.

They renewed proposals that the city institute traffic restrictions or install speed humps on their streets to keep traffic on the arterials.

Addressing that issue should be a priority, but the most apparent solution is improving traffic flow on Blithedale and Miller.

None of the traffic problems facing city officials are new, but there appears to be a stronger commitment to pursue possible solutions and some improvement to show for that focus.

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