News

Coming Soon: A Safer Miller Avenue for All Its Users

NEW! Check out our new, short, 2.5 minute Miller Avenue Streetscape Project video featuring Mayor Jessica Sloan discussing the project, its benefits, and next steps in construction.

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The Miller Avenue Streetscape Project is making steady progress towards creating a dramatically safer thoroughfare for everyone who uses it, from bicyclists and pedestrians to drivers and public transit riders.

“This is a long process, and we thank you for your patience. We are steadily working toward a future Miller Avenue that we can all be really proud of," Mill Valley Mayor Jessica Sloan said. "A Miller Avenue with safer bike lanes for our children to ride to school, safer crosswalks and wider sidewalks to walk on and gathering places that are more inviting to use as we do our shopping and errands.”

City officials have long emphasized that while the project is, a major reconstruction of the road itself, a fundamental feature of the project is making Miller multi-modal or a “Complete Street” for all modes of travel. As one community member summed it up during the conceptual design process—“making the street accessible for all community members from the age 4 to 104.” The City is an active supporter of the Marin Safe Routes to Schools program, a pioneer nationally in decreasing traffic and pollution and increasing the health of children and the community by promoting walking and bicycling to school. The Miller Avenue project is a major piece of the City’s efforts to move the Safe Routes and Complete Streets programs forward by making it safer for all users whether they be in a car, on a bike, bus, or walking.

A key aspect in accomplishing this goal is clearly delineating a safe and continuous path of travel for cars, bikes and pedestrians from Downtown Mill Valley to Almonte. This an important and key feature of the Miller Avenue improvements. Gaps in the sidewalks and bike lanes result in unsafe and inconsistent conditions, causing many community members to opt out of utilizing such modes of travel. This has been the case historically for Miller Avenue, and has forced the reliance on the use of the automobile causing more traffic congestion, pollution, and infrastructure repairs.

There are different degrees of pedestrian, bicycle and transit infrastructure being done in each section, or “room,” of the project. For instance, while the bulk of the work at the outer edges of the project center mostly on re-paving and sidewalk and bike lane improvements, the work in the “Main Street” area that encompasses much of the commercial section of Miller is more extensive, including flashing pedestrian beacons, a new bus shelter, and other improvements.

Here’s a breakdown of the multi-modal safety improvements you can expect upon the completion of the Miller Avenue Streetscape Project in late 2017:

PEDESTRIAN ACCESS

Flashing pedestrian beacon signThe recent history of Miller Avenue has been an artery that is a hodgepodge of disjointed options for walkers. From sidewalks that don’t connect to one another to those that narrow to near non-existence – or actual non-existence, in the case of inbound Miller Avenue between Vogue Cleaners and downtown – Miller hasn’t been welcoming for pedestrians, to say the least.The first evidence of pedestrian-related improvements is already visible in the form of wider sidewalks in the Main Street and Gateway sections of the project that are free of obstructions and uneven surfaces of the past.

That work continues in the coming weeks with the creation of a new sidewalk in the section of inbound Miller between Vogue Cleaners and downtown. The project also includes new mid-block crossings and an illuminated pedestrian flashing beacon at the Miller and Evergreen Avenue intersection, the location of Whole Foods Market, to heighten visibility and alert drivers of pedestrian activity. The project also utilizes special paving to highlight the pedestrian connections associated with the City’s historic Steps, Lanes and Paths.

Crosswalk improvements are also a major part of the Miller Avenue project, both around the Miller-Camino Alto intersection that gets heavy use from Tamalpais High school, as well as other Miller Avenue intersections such as Willow Street, Locust Avenue and La Goma Street. Each of those crosswalks will be enhanced to create a more clearly delineated protected zone, and are shortened, where possible, to increase safety and visibility.

Finally, the Miller project includes an effort to further meet accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and California Code of Regulations Title 24, including minimum 48” clearance and curb ramps at every intersection.

BICYCLE ACCESS

Buffered Bike LanesThe project will provide continuous 5-6-foot bike lanes with additional 2-3-foot striped buffer areas, where possible to safely separate bike and vehicle lanes and reduce conflicts making it safer for all. Bicycle racks will be installed near transit stops and retail districts, allowing cyclists to conveniently park and lock bicycles at key destinations.

TRANSIT FACILITIES

Three bus stops will be repositioned to better locate and accommodate transit riders. The outbound transit shelter at Montford and Miller will include a new bus shelter with seating and bike parking among other improvements.

TRAFFIC FLOW

The Miller Ave project seeks to create efficient traffic flow on Miller and maintain its use as the preferred vehicle route by improving operations and safety.

The project also seeks to protect the quiet character of the surrounding residential streets. To that end, the project narrows the width of Miller’s intersections with Willow Street, Locust Avenue and La Goma Street to discourage drivers seeking a cut-through route. The projects uses “bulb-outs” to maintain on-street parking where possible on Miller and the side streets.

In addition to vehicle use by residents, visitors and commuters, the project also seeks to meet emergency response requirements by making sure that emergency vehicles have the space on Miller Avenue. The project’s combined paving for the bicycle lane, buffer, travel lane and paved shoulder meet the 20-foot paved clearance on outbound Miller and the 18-foot paved clearance on inbound Miller. The project also maintains an adequate turning radii at intersections to accommodate the City’s standard fire engine.

PARKING

The City has worked with local businesses and community members to develop a Parking Management Plan for Miller Avenue, which was adopted with the Miller Avenue Streetscape Plan in 2011 and refined by the City Council on May 2, 2016.

The Parking Plan is intended to maximize the efficiency of parking by establishing parking regulations that prioritize shoppers and employees for those areas (such as "Main Street"), and shifting unrestricted parking (used by commuters or long-term employees) to other locations on Miller Avenue. Short-term and handicap parking spaces are also strategically located at the end of most block segments in the commercial areas to allow for delivery and pick up. The Parking Plan also observed that the private parking lots are typically underutilized. City staff is working with the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce and local businesses to encourage the use of private parking lots, which will also help to free up public parking spaces.

These parking strategies are intended to enhance and better serve the needs of businesses, customers, employees, residents and commuters-with increased turn over and use of parking spaces offsetting the loss in parking spaces that will occur with the project.

With all the improvements, the City’s goal is simple: to make it safe and efficient for everyone to use Miller Avenue on two wheels, two feet, four wheels, in a bus or in whatever mode of transit you prefer.

Learn more:

Visit the project website.