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Marin County’s Cal Park Tunnel (finally) opens to much fanfare!

In what was one of the most incredible showings of humanity for the opening of a bicycle & pedestrian path anywhere in the U.S., hundreds of cyclists - and hundreds more walkers and elected officials - showed up on a Friday afternoon to cut the ribbon on the long-awaited Cal Park Tunnel in Marin County, California.

The project has been talked about since the late 70s and in active development for the last twelve years. For Marin cyclists, the 1.2 mile bike-ped path/tunnel combo adds a critical, safe link to the north-south bikeway that will eventually run from the Golden Gate Bridge to Cloverdale in Sonoma County.  It is expected to shave nearly 15 minutes off of trips and serve up to 800,000 riders a year. And also just as important: the rail right-of-way has been maintained so that in the future SMART light rail vehicles can use the tunnel too!

The Cal Park Tunnel has some top-notch features: ample lighting, cell phone reception, emergency phone call boxes, a ventilation system and smooth pavement.  To read up on loads more history of the tunnel and information, check out StreetsblogSF's great recap from last week.


Deb Hubsmith: [00:07] I am so excited about today’s event.  It is amazing to see how many people turned out to celebrate the opening of the Cal Park Hill Tunnel, which is going to make it safer and easier for people to be able to walk and bike, and really represents the dawning of a new era for bicycling here in Marin County.


Kim Baenisch:  [00:22] We’ve been working at this for about twelve years now to open up this tunnel and it is just amazing to see that it has finally come.  It’s 1.2 miles from sort of tip to tip of the paved paths, including the stretch of the tunnel.  The tunnel itself is about 1100 feet long.  This is a state of the art facility.  It’s got lighting and cellphone accessibility and security cameras and beautiful smooth pavement, the ventilation system.  I mean what more could you ask for?  And it’s for bikes and peds. 


Tim Blumenthal:  [00:53] Anytime you get together a hundred or two hundred, I don’t even know how many people are here, and you do a bike ride for the first time in a new place, it’s a special moment. 


Charles McGlashan:  [01:01] We had a huge turnout today, a whole bunch of people on foot, in wheelchairs and on bikes.  It was an awesome demonstration of a vision of a multi-use path. 


Deb Hubsmith:  [01:09] This vision for having a bicycle and pedestrian pathway parallel to the rail line has been alive since in the 1970’s.  A lot of agencies came together.  There were some fights along the way.  We had to stop a parking lot from being built at one side of the tunnel. 


Steve Kinsey:  [01:23] You know the future for our country depends on taking on these kinds of challenges, giving people healthier opportunities, to include exercise in their mobility, to reduce our fuel consumption, and to have a whole lot of fun while they’re moving around. 


Tim Blumenthal:  [01:38] This is really a big development because this is a classic example of a tunnel replacing around about way that goes around the mountain.  And when you can make bicycling faster than any other way to travel from one point, point A to point B, you really win. 


Kim Baenisch:  [01:52] Well depending on how slow you ride or fast you ride, easily shave off 15 minutes from a bike commute between Downtown Sante Rafael and the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.


Joe Breeze:  [02:05] Who was this tunnel originally made for?  Well it was the San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad out of Tiburon, going up through Sante Rafael and up north.  In 1884 they built this tunnel to get a flat route over the Tiburon.


Tim Blumenthal:  [02:22] And when the rail declined after the Golden Gate Bridge was put in and everybody started driving, it was kind of forgotten, and now it’s been revived and not only for bikes and for people on foot, but I believe also for trains ultimately. 


Charles McGlashan:  [02:33] The vision is that someday on, right on the other side of this wall here, the SMART cars will be coming through bringing people from Sonoma County all the way here to the Larkspur Ferry. 

Transcription Sponsored by: Transcript Divas Transcription Services

Clarence Eckerson Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • Clarence Eckerson, Jr.

    As I mentioned in the write-up, see here for much more information: http://sf.streetsblog.org/2010/12/10/cal-park-tunnel-opening-ceremony-sees-hundreds-of-cyclists/

    The tunnel has preserved the railroad right-of-way for future light rail or train cars. The $$$ are not there yet, they hope for them. I just didn't have enough time to get into it in this video other than the brief mention at the end.

  • kyle

    looks cramped
    expect much bike-ped conflict

  • Gary

    It seems most of the time when you have cyclists and pedestrians, especially on a narrow path like the tunnel, there's going to be conflicts. People in groups of two and more always seem to walk abreast.

    If indeed there's that much traffic, even occasionally as in the video, there's going to be trouble.

    The east walk of the GGB being a example.

  • Terry

    Share the path!

  • Gary


    Your idealistic not realistic.

  • John Murphy

    Gary's right. This is a hazard. Close it down.

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/bikeculturetheory Justin

    Come on guys its going to be fine in there. Even at just 7 mph it will take what maybe 3 or 4 minutes to get through 1000 feet of tunnel? Would it have been better to have two bike lanes, heading in opposite directions and a single lane for peds like on the Brooklyn Bridge or Crissy Field area, sure. But this is a narrow tunnel with only so much space. The only thing that would cause a problem is if a cyclist decides she needs to tear ass through this thing.

  • kyle

    "The only thing that would cause a problem is if a cyclist decides she needs to tear ass through this thing."

    yeah, i think this will happen ... often

  • Tunnel…lover

    Sounds like Kyle is a speed demon.

  • ZA

    Makes good time & $ense.

    The likely commuter from San Rafael to downtown San Francisco (and back) now has some real choices:

    - Bus: $8.08 and 120-140 minutes (+congestion)
    - Bike-Ferry-Bike: $11.40 and <180 minutes (no congestion)
    - Car: $32* and 80 minutes (+congestion)

    *tricks of the trade can bring this price down, but no less than $17 with a lot of added parking ticket risk.

  • http://www.greenidea.eu Todd Edelman

    Hi, as you can see at the link it will not be light rail, but heavy rail (a DMU - Diesel Multiple Unit - the engines are incorporated into the cars,e.g. under the floor. There is a similar example in San Diego and all over Europe) and will have 24 spaces for bikes! The rail section will be single-track which is fine since the train will not be running frequently enough to make this a problem.

    It is actually sad in a way as the original railway went all the way to Fairfax and you can tell very easily how the former tracks were filled in at that end with another road and parking.

  • http://www.greenidea.eu Todd Edelman
  • Bob Davis

    Not only did the old trains run all the way to Fairfax, they were electric-powered, and in those days (up to 1941), much of the electricity came from hydro-electric plants.

  • poncho

    some of you cyclists have the motorist mentality... slow the F down and share the road

  • chickeee in Canada

    since it is so short they should add small speed bumps to slow the bikes

  • Justin

    FUCK YOU MARIN... your self propelling pricks.

  • Thiasstephen

    this is dumb, it's not like anyone in marin will actually use this for commute.  its really only for weekend riders who wanna give their beamers a rest

    fuck marin burn yuppies