The City of Mill Valley is in the midst of the latest phase of its Downtown Project, a multi-year infrastructure that seeks to improve the overall flow and safety of car, bike and pedestrian travel in the downtown area. In February 2020, the City Council signed off on a $2 million overhaul of downtown sewers, sidewalks, storm drains and streets, all with a focus on minimizing the impact on downtown businesses, particularly on parking and access.
Now it’s on Phase 2, which is largely focused on ADA access and safety improvements, primarily in the form of 17 new curb ramps and “bulb outs” that seek to narrow the road and shorten the distance pedestrians have to cover to cross the street. Those bulb-outs are being installed on East Blithedale Ave., Throckmorton Ave., Corte Madera Ave. and Sunnyside Avenue.
In the midst of that phase, City officials are also doing a one-month test-run of reconfiguring downtown traffic patterns at two key intersections to evaluate their potential for improving safety. The demonstration is in place now and runs through October 22, with temporary signs and pavement markings in place to guide motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
Based on the results of the test, the City could pursue permanent installation of the reconfiguration as part of future Downtown Rehabilitation phases. Here are the components of the temporary reconfiguration:
Throckmorton Avenue/Miller Avenue/Bernard Street
- Realigns westbound lane to other side of Lytton Square and controlling all approaches with stop signs
- Requires traffic on north side of Lytton Square to turn right onto Bernard
- Bernard becomes a one-way northbound street,with additional parking
- Southbound Bernard traffic would detour along Lovell to Madrona, Olive or Old Mill Streets
- Converts angled parking in front of the Depot to parallel parking
- Note: Reduced driver confusion and less overall congestion is predicted, except some minor back-ups are estimated for westbound Throckmorton
Sunnyside Avenue/Miller Avenue
- Blocks off the narrow left and right turning lanes between Depot Plaza and the redwood trees
- Channelizes traffic to a single stop controlled left/through/right turn lane, currently only used by buses
- Note: Improved sight lines are expected and potential for Depot Plaza expansion could be possible.
The removal of the “wiggle” at Sunnyside and Miller avenues will allow the Mill Valley Historical Society to temporarily place within that space a full-size model of the historic Engine No. 9, a 100-year-old steam engine that is the only surviving piece of the once world-famous Mt. Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railway. Children and their families have been painting the model at the Mill Valley Lumber Yard (129 Miller Ave.) – the final paint date is Oct. 2, from 11am to 2pm – and they hope to install it soon after. Friends of No. 9, the organization formed by the Mill Valley Historical Society, Friends of Mt. Tam, Marin History Museum and others, purchased the actual Engine No. 9 at auction and are now working to restore it and hope to locate it somewhere in Mill Valley.