Miller Avenue Streetscape Project Update

After years of planning, budgeting and engineering, the City of Mill Valley is set to embark in early 2016 on the Miller Avenue Streetscape Project, a complete overhaul of one of our town’s two primary arteries. 

The $14.2 million project is far and away the biggest road renovation the City has undertaken in decades: an overhaul of approximately two miles of Miller Avenue, one of Mill Valley’s two main arteries. The project stretches from Almonte Boulevard near Tamalpais High all the way to Sunnyside Avenue near downtown. 

At an August 10th event co-hosted by the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce, the latest timeline for the project was shared and discussed. 

“We’ve been working on Miller Avenue for the better part of 10 years,” City Manager Jim McCann told the audience of mostly Miller Avenue business owners. “Today is another step in that very long process. There will be some inconvenience for you during this project. We want to make sure that you understand what’s coming.” 

This fall, utility companies such as PG&E, Marin Municipal Water District, AT&T and Comcast will conduct underground work on the road in advance of the City’s work early next year. Scheduling those utilities first will allow the City’s contractor – the project will go out to bid later this year – to move more nimbly without multiple agencies to coordinate, City officials said. 

In October, the City Council will review a number of major components of the project, including a design proposal, funding strategy and the final design catalog, a list of the project’s components like plantings, streetlights, medians, paving and crosswalk materials and street furnishings like benches, bike racks and trash bins. 

The project is built around the "Complete Streets" principles of design, addressing safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, providing better transit access and improving motorist safety, all while retaining and enhancing Miller Avenue’s current character. It provides continuous bike lanes, improves sidewalks, enhances crosswalks and also repairs pavement, storm drains, and sanitary sewers along Miller Avenue.

The August 10 forum was designed to inform Miller Avenue business owners about the timeline and the plan to phase the project to minimize the impact on those businesses. It also gave business owners a chance to speak directly with project engineers about their needs in terms of parking and access during the proposed construction schedule. 

“This meeting tonight is about getting down to brass tacks,” said John Gibbs of Wallace Roberts and Todd, the City’s consultants on the project.

Robert Stevens of BKF Engineers said the goal of the event was to get business owners’ input in the “creation of a set of requirements that allow the contractor to achieve the project at cost but to minimize the impact on your business as much as possible.” 

Stevens outlined the schedule of the project and how it would be phased to minimize impact on businesses, particularly in the “Main Street” section between Willow and Reed streets where the bulk of the area’s businesses are located. 

Stevens said the work within Main Street would start on the outside edges of the street and its sidewalks, initially eliminating the parking in the medians to allow for space for one inbound and outbound lane of travel while the normal travel lanes are being reconstructed. Workers would then shift their attention to rebuilding the medians, and that one lane of traffic would be maintained throughout the three-week-long reconstruction of the Main Street section in the middle of the summer 2016. 

“We want to complete most disruptive work during summer when schools are out of session,” Stevens said. 

Stevens said that access would be maintained to each business and that there would be signage promoting that businesses remain open during the road’s reconstruction. 

He added that his firm was in the midst of creating a “parking management strategy” that included identifying possible sources of off-street parking to be used while on-street parking is reduced. He said the City was open to any and all suggestions for how best to manage the temporary loss of street parking during reconstruction. 

The Miller Avenue Streetscape Project has a long history. Go here for comprehensive info on the plan.

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