Update on Traffic: Action Plan

Living or working in Mill Valley, we can all agree that traffic congestion is adversely impacting our quality of life. At Monday’s City Council meeting we took a look at the causes of congestion in Mill Valley and the City Council accepted recommendations from staff to make immediate improvements to increase road efficiency and to develop further recommendations regarding larger and longer-term improvements to address the primary contributors to peak time traffic. It is clear that only some of the possible tools available to reduce congestion are within our control, but most causes of congestion and methods to improve traffic flow are complex and involve many players and will require commitments from the community, our school districts and partnerships with the County and Caltrans.

When we think about traffic congestion in Mill Valley, we have to remember that we are not alone. The traffic problem is regional and congestion occurs regularly throughout Marin and the Bay Area. Here in Mill Valley, where we have only two thoroughfares in and out of town; our circulation system and options are very limited and the network is fragile. The smallest changes in traffic volume on Highway 101, Tiburon Boulevard, or Shoreline Highway have immediate ripple effects that backup our streets for prolonged periods. Unfortunately, our in-town circulation along Miller and Blithedale Avenues is inextricably tied to the inadequately functioning Highway 101 interchange as well as the highly congested Shoreline Highway corridor.

Our strong economy also plays a part in our regular congestion with an increase in trips by service workers together with traffic associated with the very active home renovation surge we are experiencing. Additionally, school enrollment has grown 26% in the past 10 years. While many families get their kids to school by bike, on foot or carpool, many also must drive adding to the daily peak hour congestion in the morning and afternoon.

In addition to presenting our findings on the causes of traffic congestion we also introduced an Action Plan with steps we can take to restore road capacity, increase capacity and reduce the demand on our roads. The Action Plan includes realistic steps to provide immediate, albeit modest, improvements and a structure to develop further comprehensive short and long term strategies to improve traffic flow. Some of the ideas included in the Action Plan are:

  1. Provide Camino Alto/Blithedale intersection improvements
  2. Install lane delineators on E. Blithedale at Meadow Lane
  3. Revisit and assess the Signal Timing/Synchronization Program and make adjustments as appropriate
  4. File an application to formally request Caltrans add a dedicated Southbound Hwy 101 entrance ramp at E. Blithedale
  5. File an application to formally request additional Shoreline Highway improvements
  6. Coordinate with School District regarding school transportation options including School Bus service
  7. Form an Advisory Task Force to develop recommendations for short and long-term improvements and programs
  8. Collect extensive and specific current traffic data and public input to define problem
  9. Survey and seek input from the Community on options and ideas
  10. Expand our communication tools to inform the public of “breaking” traffic conditions and recommendations

Staff had recommended another element of the Action Plan: initiating a pilot project to utilize Hamilton Drive as a two-way thoroughfare to determine the benefits, which might be derived to traffic flow. The City Council decided not to undertake that project but rather to leave Hamilton Drive in its current configuration.

While we implement the Action Plan, there will be opportunities for more public input (we’ve received more than 100 comments in recent months on the topic) and suggestions as we explore the best options for us, as a community, to pursue to alleviate the congestion, which so directly affects the quality of life in Mill Valley.

We encourage all residents and community members to read the staff report on this subject and review the presentation slides to better understand the principal causes of our sustained traffic congestion and some of the measures we must take to improve circulation conditions.

As always we appreciate and value your input on all of these matters. If you have any comments, suggestions, or ideas please feel free to contact us.

Get Updates on Current and Upcoming Traffic Conditions in Mill Valley

  • www.mvtraffic.org: The City of Mill Valley has launched mvtraffic.org to give you a central location for local traffic conditions and updates about local traffic.The website includes a local map showing current conditions (via Google traffic), timely updates from the Police Department’s Twitter account, and news about events or projects that are impacting traffic in town.Visit mvtraffic.org and bookmark the site on your mobile device.
  • Twitter: Follow the Mill Valley Police Department and City of Mill Valley on Twitter. Police Officers are often first to know about traffic issues and they tweet alerts to the community.
  • Nextdoor: Sign up for Nextdoor. Nextdoor is a private neighborhood website where residents share information such as neighborhood public safety issues, community events and activities, local services, and referrals. The City has the ability to send urgent messages to all subscribers.
  • Sign up for eNews: eNews is sent directly to your email inbox with information about news and events of importance to you. Enter your email address and select “Traffic Conditions and Road Closures.”