Crossroads Construction

Greg Hill and Greg Hill

If you take any kind of vehicle going to or coming from Terra Linda High School, you’re probably all-too-aware of the construction at the Freitas & Las Gallinas intersection. The junction has always been a hotbed for traffic in San Rafael, but since construction started in April, it’s been even worse. What is the construction for, and when will it be completed?

The purpose of the intersection’s reconfiguration is to make traffic smoother. Concurrent left turns from Freitas onto Las Gallinas have been impossible, causing heavy congestion in the area. In order to abate these issues, the local government hired Ghilotti Bros, inc. to redevelop the entire intersection.

Other goals of the project are to extend bicycle lanes to the intersection, enlarge turn lanes, replace old asphalt, modify storm drains, replace traffic signals, and to remove channelizing islands (i.e. The triangular slabs pedestrians wait to cross the street on) on three corners.

These changes require a wider intersection, so Ghilotti Bros. have demolished bridge decks over the creek running through the intersection and will replace them to streamline the crossroads. As a result, crossing Freitas Parkway as a pedestrian is far more difficult and dangerous as of today.

Drivers also face frustrations due to the project. Before construction began, both northbound and southbound drivers went through the crossroads at the same time. This state of affairs was dangerous for the construction workers, so now northbound and southbound drivers go separately. This change was intended to only go on for a few weeks in August, but was then extended until the project is completed.

Construction was projected to end in November when work began, though the end date has since been pushed to December. The work will cost 2.6 million dollars, paid through gas tax revenue and the city’s traffic mitigation fund.

Though an end date in December seems likely, there are potential issues that could set back work further. New traffic poles purchased by the San Rafael Department of Public Works     may not arrive until January. In addition, asphalt resurfacing cannot be done in heavy rain, so if the resurfacing is not done by December, work will have to be paused until the rainy season ends.

The San Rafael Department of Public Works keeps updates on the project on their website. The Department of Public Works advises San Rafael citizens to either leave their home or work early to accommodate for the added time the wait at the intersection will take up, or to plan alternative routes to their destinations that don’t require using the crossroads.

Traffic at Freitas and Las Gallinas won’t be eliminated once construction has concluded, but with the possibility of concurrent left turns and tuning to the signal systems, things will certainly be more efficient. Bicyclists and pedestrians will certainly see great benefits from the extended bike lanes and new crosswalk systems.