Guided by its Core Values to preserve health and safety and the community's high quality of life, the Mill Valley City Council established the maintenance and enhancement of City infrastructure as one of its Key Issues. The community echoed its commitment to this objective by approving the Municipal Services Tax (MST) to fund road rehabilitation. This local funding source provides $1.1 million annually, $900,000 of which is used for street improvement projects.
Since 1987, Mill Valley residents have supported the MST to fund its long-term program of street rehabilitation and fire prevention services. In the past 11 years, the MST has brought in just under 12 million dollars. These funds have been put towards maintaining, repairing and improving streets (safety curbing and striping, regular repaving of most-traveled streets, and improving less-traveled streets); preventing wildfires by removing brush and vegetation, creating fire breaks, and improving emergency vehicle access; repairing and improving storm drains; and restoring areas damaged by landslides. The funds generated by this tax have improved the condition of city streets and storm drains, reduced fire hazards, and shortened emergency response times.
In 2008, the City developed the current Pavement Management Plan (PMP) based on a $1.4 million annual budget from the MST, gas tax, road impact fees, and voter-approved Measure A funds. Measure A funds are used for local infrastructure projects including street and road projects, local transit projects, and bicycle and pedestrian projects. Last year, implementation of the PMP included road repairs and new asphalt paving on Hamilton Drive, Edgewood and Mountain View Avenues to name a few. This year’s PMP project includes the current East Blithedale improvement project along with improvements on Vasco Drive from Camino Alto to Underhill Road and Azalea Drive from Camino Alto to Vasco Drive.
Sewer rehabilitation projects in Mill Valley are funded by the Sewer Service Charge, which was updated in 2011. Prior to 2011, the City charged disproportionately low sewer rates, providing limited revenue to address aging sewer infrastructure. The City raised its Sewer Service Charges to provide funding to improve and replace an aging infrastructure, and to comply with more stringent environmental regulations. The new rates provide funding for a sustained replacement program of old sewer pipes, and increasing wastewater treatment and disposal costs.
The PMP identifies three phases of construction and rehabilitation in the next five years: East Blithedale Interim Improvements, the Miller Avenue Streetscape Project, and the East Blithedale Full Road Rehabilitation. The City Council identified the implementation of the Miller Avenue Streetscape Plan as a priority project and has directed City engineers to develop the design and construction phasing strategy critical for the Plan. As a part of this effort, City engineers advised that prior to the Miller Avenue rehabilitation effort, East Blithedale should receive improvements to its road surface and sewer system. This sequence of improvements is recommended to best mitigate the impacts of the upcoming major road construction projects on Miller and Blithedale Avenues. After the completion of the Miller Avenue rehabilitation effort, a full road rehabilitation will occur on East Blithedale Avenue involving pavement reconstruction, surface and storm pipeline drainage improvements, and ADA and pedestrian path of travel improvements.
The timing of these three projects will also allow the City time to receive public input and focus on creative solutions necessary to solve the challenges posed by reconstructing East Blithedale. Challenges include developing and planning a cost effective and environmentally sustainable rehabilitation of East Blithedale, which includes incorporating "Complete Streets" principles, addressing drainage needs, including environmentally sustainable design elements and securing the necessary funding for the reconstruction project. Close coordination with the residents who live along the East Blithedale corridor will also be a key component to ensuring a successful large-scale project. For these reasons the City believes this interim repair will be a positive step in addressing public concern regarding the condition of East Blithedale, with the ultimate goal of constructing a long lasting, comprehensive project.
Beginning at the end of June 2013, work crews will make limited scope improvements on East Blithedale from Elm/Alta Vista to Camino Alto Avenues that will provide improved road conditions for motorists and cyclists. This $800K sewer replacement project will be funded through the new sewer service charge and will include the replacement of the sewer collection main which conveys sewage from a significant number of homes and businesses along East Blithedale.
Construction on East Blithedale will take place during the summer, while schools are closed, beginning June 24th and ending August 23rd. Phases of the project include:
- Sewer Main Rehabilitation – This portion of the project will take place on the westbound lane only (leading into downtown Mill Valley) – It is most likely that crews will start at Camino Alto and work along the sewer line towards Elm/Alta Vista Avenues. This phase will require approximately 6 weeks to complete.
- Street Repair – This portion of the project will take place on both lanes of East Blithedale. Construction crews will only resurface one lane at a time in order to minimize disruption to traffic. This phase will require no more than 3 weeks to complete.
The street repair portion of the project will involve “scrub seal/microsurfacing.” This is a surface treatment applied to streets to improve the pavement surface and extend the life of the pavement at a relatively low cost. While never before used in Mill Valley, engineers in Novato have used this treatment successfully on several major arterial roads, such as Rowland and South Novato Boulevards. Scrub seal/microsurfacing treatments are more robust than slurry seals and can be applied to streets with more surface cracking – a good fit for East Blithedale Avenue. First, crushed aggregate will be embedded into the pavement which is then sealed with an asphalt emulsion. Next, work crews will apply a microsurfacing treatment in order to provide a smooth riding surface.
After work crews apply the final microsurfacing treatment, residents will be able to drive on the roadway within five hours. Residents can expect the road surface to “shed” by producing small loose gravel, for a period of 2-4 months after installation, depending on the amount of traffic on the road. Maintenance crews will continue to sweep the streets and remove the loose rock. The roughness of the street will gradually dissipate as vehicles travel on the road surface and the material fully cures.
Construction costs for the seal and surfacing treatment of East Blithedale are expected to be approximately$70,000. An engineer's estimate for the sewer rehabilitation along East Blithedale Avenue is approximately $800,000. The total East Blithedale improvement project is anticipated to cost approximately $870,000 with a 20% contingency for a final total of $1,044,000.
If you have questions or comments, please call the East Blithedale Project Hotline at 590-0117 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.