1. What are the features of Project Headlands?
2. How much will this project stimulate the local economy?
3. Why are improvements to roads, trails and other infrastructure so important for the Marin Headlands?
4. Where is the project located?
5. What was the environmental review process for Project Headlands?
6. What improvements will be made for bicycle recreation?
7. What changes to parking capacity, fees and locations will be made?
8. What is the project schedule including road construction and impact mitigation?
9. Will there be delays, detours and/or road closure during construction?
10. How will transit access to Marin Headlands be improved?
11. How will this project use sustainable construction practices?
12. What is being done to mitigate any construction related environmental impacts as a result of construction activities?
13. How will the environmental quality of the Marin Headlands be preserved?
14. What is the project cost and how is it funded?
15. Where can I find more information about the project?
This access improvement project is part of the Marin Headlands Fort Baker Transportation Management Plan (MHFBTMP). Project Headlands will improve roadway surfaces and configurations, drainage structures, directional signage and safety on 11 miles of historic roads in the Marin Headlands and Fort Baker while preserving the historic character of the roadways.
Specifically, the project will:
- Rehabilitate road and trail infrastructure to protect resources, improve safety and improve circulation
- Reduce traffic congestion at key park locations and regional connection roads
- Improve directional signs throughout the project area and implement intelligent transportation systems (ITS) to improve visitor safety and reduce congestion
- Enhance environmental quality and follow sustainable practices during construction as well as creating sustainable features to enhance the park’s long-term environmental quality
- Enhance transit by expanding existing service and improving transit stop amenities
- Improve accessibility by ensuring all new or reconstructed trails will meet outdoor accessibility guidelines to maximize accessibility for all visitors
- Provide approximately 200 construction jobs
Project Headlands is anticipated to bring as many as 200 jobs to the local economy as direct, indirect and induced effects of the construction. These jobs will result not only from jobs in the project itself, but also jobs at companies providing materials to the project and at other companies affected by increases in spending by the project’s workers and firms.
Project Headlands is needed because the current road network in the Marin Headlands and Fort Baker was not constructed to accommodate present traffic volumes and the diverse types of traffic that now use the roads. The asphalt paving is 30 years old or more, and trail conditions to park destinations need to be improved. Overlook parking is in unsafe locations with poor visibility for users entering and leaving the parking stalls. In addition, parking does not meet current accessibility requirements. Also, transit service in the area is limited, making it difficult to access the Marin Headlands and Fort Baker except by driving. In addition, pedestrian and bicycle roads and trails need to be improved to provide connectivity from U.S. 101 and local roads to park destinations in order to create an attractive and viable alternative to auto access.
The Marin Headlands and Fort Baker are in the San Francisco Bay Area at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, across the bay from San Francisco. The Marin Headlands span the southern tip of the Marin Peninsula, from U.S. Highway 101 to the western coastline, a 2,500-acre area. Fort Baker is a 335-acre site directly adjacent to the Headlands on the east side of U.S. 101. Both sites are within Marin County. The city limits of Sausalito meet the northern boundary of Fort Baker, and San Rafael is about 10 miles to the north.
This project area is defined as the historic U.S. Army Forts Baker, Barry, and Cronkhite, and the corridors of roads and trails that connect the three forts to the U.S. Highway 101 corridor and the Golden Gate Bridge. Forts Baker, Barry, and Cronkhite are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district.
Project Headlands is part of the Marin Headlands and Fort Baker Transportation Infrastructure and Management Plan. The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the planpresents and analyzes alternatives to provide improved access to and within the MarinHeadlands and Fort Baker for a variety of users, and seeks to initiate these improvements in a way that minimizes impacts to the rich natural diversity and cultural resources of the Marin Headlands and Fort Baker. Scoping for the plan included obtaining early input about the planning project from any public, staff, interested agency, or any agency with jurisdiction by law or expertise. The National Park Service hosted three public scoping meetings to collect comments during scoping to determine the breadth of environmental issues and alternatives to be addressed in a planning document prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
Based on issues identified during the public and agency scoping process, the impact analysis focuses on transportation, natural resources (including geology, paleontology, soils, and seismicity; water resources, biological resources, and air quality), cultural resources, visitor use and experience (including visual and aesthetic resources; recreation and visitor enjoyment; noise; and human health, safety, and the environment), the social and economic environment, and park operations and management.
Environmental impacts of the alternatives in the Final Environmental Impact Statementare analyzed in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, National Park Service Director’s Order #12: Conservation Planning, Environmental Impact Analysis and Decision making, and NPS Management Policies 2006.
This Final Environmental Impact Statement was available for a 30-day public review. Comments were taken into consideration, and a record of decision was prepared and signed, identifying the alternative selected as the final plan. The National Park Service selected the final plan based primarily on advantages with respect to improving access to and within the Marin Headlands and Fort Baker for a variety of users in a way that minimizes impacts to natural and cultural resources. Selected management activities and projects, including Project Headlands will be implemented by the National Park Service as funds became available. To learn more about the plan or to view the Record of Decision please visit http://parkplanning.nps.gov/goga.
Below is a summary of the environmental document and public outreach activities conducted for this project.
- March/April 2002: Public Scoping Meetings (3)
- November 2002: Alternatives Refinement Public Workshops (2)
- Since 2006: GGNRA Open House Public Meetings
- June 2007: Draft EIS Released
- June-August 2007: Public Review of Draft EIS
- March 2009: Final EIS
- August 2009: Record of Decision (ROD)
- September 2009: Implementation
The project will improve bicycle and pedestrian safety by providing new sidewalks and trails in some locations, improving existing trails and providing signage. In addition, existing roads will be widened to safely accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians in the shoulder area. Specifically, the project will:
- Widen roads 2-4 feet to provide additional shoulder width of 2 to 4 feet.
- Construct new bicycle/pedestrian path between Fort Baker and the 1-way tunnel along the utility road north of East Bunker Road, with a new bicycle/pedestrian tunnel under Alexander Avenue
- Provide an uphill 5 foot bike lane to improve safety on Conzelman Road from Alexander Avenue to McCullough Road.
- Widen East Road to provide additional shoulder width of two to four feet for bicyclists.
- Improve overlooks and parking areas, and realign roadways at specific locations, such as Battery Spencer and Overlooks 1 and 2 on Conzelman Road to improve the safety of bicyclists sharing the roadway with motorized vehicles. Widening at these specified locations would allow cars to partially back out to gain sight distance to see oncoming vehicles prior to entering the traveled way
- Convert major intersections from a Y to a T configuration to improve safety
Rehabilitated, new, and relocated parking areas will be provided to improve visitor experience, accessibility and safety. Parking improvements will also be better defined to discourage overflow and also reduce resource impacts. Specifically, unpaved parking at Rodeo Beach would be removed and the site restored. Some replacement parking would be constructed elsewhere at Fort Cronkhite. A new trailhead parking area (150 cars) at Smith Road (across from the stables) will replace parking removed from the historic Rifle Range and accommodate trail users including horse trailers as well as accommodate special events (paved and unpaved spaces). New trailhead parking will be provided at Julian Road (the multi-use Coastal Trail near the intersection of Conzelman and McCullough Roads).
In addition to improving parking capacity and locations, water quality will be improved by installing drop inlet filters and vegetated bio-filters in heavily used parking areas. Also, pervious pavers or porous pavements will be investigated for use in selected parking areas.
At a later date a parking fee program will be implemented to help fund improved transit service.
The improvements to the roadways will be completed in two phases. The first phase of improvements, managed by the Federal Highway Administration, working closely with the National Park Service, included improvements to Conzelman Road, McCullough Road, East Road, Field Road and West Bunker Tunnel to Alexander Avenue Connector (Danes Drive). This work was completed in October 2011. The second phase of improvements, is scheduled to start in 2013, will include an estimated two years of Bunker Road and Fort Cronkite reconstruction. Other work related to trails, revegetation, and transit expansions will continue in future years as funding becomes available.
The first phase of road construction was completed in 2011. No construction is anticipated in 2012 and all the roads and trails will be open to users. The second phase of the construction will begin in 2013. It is anticipated over a 2 year period. All efforts will be made to minimize disruptions; however, there will be some temporary road closures and delays. Please check back for a more detailed closure and detour schedule.
Transit service improvements as related to the roadway improvements will include improved stop locations including improved ADA accessibility where feasible. In the future improvements will include increased transit options to and within the park, including expanded service and frequency, plus more direct access to specific areas. These improvements will be tied to projected revenue expected to be generated by parking fees. In addition, expanded shuttle service on car-free days will allow access to park destinations by alternative modes. Car-free days will be implemented on a trial basis for a maximum of seven days per year. Specific transit Improvements include:
- Coordination with San Francisco Municipal Transit System & Golden Gate Transit to expand existing service and improve park access
- Continued use and improvement to MUNI 76 service along existing route
- New shuttle service between Fort Baker and the Marin Headlands
- Improved transit stop amenities (benches, shelters, and signage)
One of the main goals of the project is to make it “green” by following sustainable practices during construction as well as creating sustainable features to enhance the park’s environmental quality for the long term. Sustainable construction practices and features include:
- Reuse of excavated material as shouldering material
- Reuse of existing asphalt grindings as road base
- Use of project generated materials to reduce truck haulings
- Use of bio-swales & vegetated ditches to filter runoff and break down pollutants
- Natural surface parking areas
- Use of low VOC road paints
- Reuse of existing guardrail
The use of best management practices and mitigation measures for construction activities will reduce the likelihood of adverse impacts of invasive nonnative plants and the potential introduction of new invasive weeds from construction equipment. Specific best management practices include:
- No excavation activities are permitted between October 15 and July 1 in the vicinity of Rodeo Lagoon and Lake (when water levels are the lowest and during the breeding season for red-legged frogs and migration season for Central Coast California Steelhead).
- All vehicles must observe a maximum speed limit of 25 miles per hour on Conzelman, McCullough and East Roads during the flight period of the Mission blue butterfly (February 15 through July 4).
- Perform all clearing of shrubs and grasses taller than 200 mm between August 1 and February 28 to avoid bird nesting season. Do not disturb soil during clearing operations. If areas remain to be cleared between February 28 and August 1, the NPS will conduct a pre-project survey to determine that no birds are nesting there.
- A 100 ft buffer area will be maintained around riparian areas. Staging and vehicle use will occur outside of the buffer area unless a biological monitor is present or gives prior approval of staging in this buffer area.
- A biological monitor will search the area around Rodeo Creek and Rodeo Lagoon for the presence of red-legged frogs and western pond turtles. The biologist will remain on site during excavation at these locations.
- The Contractor will be required to use best management practices on operations that use fuels, solvents, or other potential pollutants.
- A NPS provided geologist will be onsite for the rock cut on Conzelman Road at Battery Spencer to help shape the final cut face in order to help expose the most interesting geologic features.
- Project will abide by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Construction Permit and Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan.
- Fill material near Rodeo Creek and Lagoon will be excavated to restore wetlands. Erosion control fabric will be installed to help stabilize slope until vegetation is established.
- During construction work adjacent to Rodeo Creek or Lagoon, monitoring for turbidity will be conducted and any needed remedial measures will be taken.
Dust and Debris Control
- All active construction areas will be watered to control dust.
- Streets will be swept as required (with water sweepers) if visible soil material is carried onto adjacent public streets.
- All trucks hauling soil, sand, and other loose materials will be covered, or all trucks will be required to maintain at least 2 feet of freeboard.
- Inactive storage piles will be covered.
One of the goals of the project is to rehabilitate road and trail infrastructure in a manner that protects resources and improves safety and circulation. Currently, trails, roadways, and parking areas have caused various resource impacts. Some poorly resources/designed or unresources/designated parking areas take up more space than necessary, and many are located in valuable wetland or riparian resources and habitat, which are further impacted by runoff from roadways and parking areas. In addition, pedestrians take shortcuts to reach destinations without formal trails, contributing to natural resource degradation. To address these issues, the project will reorganize parking to improve safety, alleviate parking congestion, and reduce impacts on natural resources. Also, improved trail connections between park destinations and roadways will help protect environmental and cultural resources.
In addition, Project Headlands will remove invasive, non-native vegetation in select locations to provide a higher quality habitat for native plant and wildlife species. For example, the Hawk Hill Restoration Effort is part of the mitigation effort for impacts related to road rehabilitation and trail enhancement actions that occur within existing Mission blue butterfly habitat. The Hawk Hill tree removal will help restore the degraded habitat for the federally endangered Mission blue butterfly. In addition, the tree removal will benefit the native plant community and all the native species that are associated with coastal scrub grasslands.
Another restoration effort includes closing Slacker Hill for bicycle use to help restore the Mission blue butterflies and red-legged frog habitat. The trail has significant drainage and erosion issues as well as safety concerns for bicyclists. By limiting trail access to pedestrian/equestrian use, erosion and drainage improvements can be made without changing the trail’s footprint and impacting the habitat.
The first phase of improvements is completed. It was awarded to Ghilotti Brothers Incorporated for $8.7 million for road construction on Conzelman, Field, McCullough, East and West Bunker (Danes Drive) roads. The second phase, scheduled to begin construction in 2013, is estimated to cost $9.0 million. The second phase includes construction activities on Bunker Road, Old Bunker Road, The Marine Mammal Center Access Road and Mitchell Roads.
The construction costs are primarily funded through the Federal Lands Highway Program (FLHP) under the Park Roads and Parkways (PRP) Program subdivision. The Federal Highways Administration’s Office of Federal Lands Highway and NPS jointly administer the PRP Program. Projects included in the PRP Program are funded through the 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).
Capital improvements associated with the trails, signage, transit service, and Danes Drive will be financed through a combination of local, state, and federal funding sources in combination with private grants and philanthropic sources. Funding for other capital improvements will be financed through a variety of federal programs. Operating costs will be fully funded through new park revenue or would be generated primarily by parking fees and supplemented with additional funding sources such as leases, grants, or philanthropic sources.
More information on FHWA programs and project funding can be found at http://flh.fhwa.dot.gov/programs/.
Visit www.projectheadlands.gov for more information and project updates, including temporary road and parking lot closures. At the project Website you can sign-up for project mailing lists, learn about upcoming public meetings and events, and find updates on construction schedules.
Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/projectheadland