A group of Southern Marin residents — who have dubbed themselves the “Tunnel Light Brigade” — are agitating for better lighting in the underpass below Highway 101 that connects Sausalito and Marin City, saying they will bring their own if nothing is done.
The lighting project has been discussed for seven years. It was prompted by the December 2010 stabbing death of Larry Robinson in the tunnel, which is virtually dark at night with only faint fluorescent lighting.
“The public has been promised … that there would be adequate tunnel lighting installed. We are still waiting,” said Sonja Hanson of Sausalito, who is leading the effort. “Kids go back and forth from Marin City and Sausalito, Monday through Friday, to attend Willow Creek Academy. Residents from Marin City walk back and forth every day to access services available on the Sausalito side of the tunnel. Winter is approaching, and we are back on standard time. The tunnel that is always dark, will be darker, both for pedestrians and motorists.
“Seven years of promises is enough; this is about installing an LED lighting system in the tunnel.”
Hanson said she and her group are planning to wear head lamp lights in the tunnel to draw the attention to the issue if action is not taken.
Officials said the project will get done.
The county of Marin has submitted a work plan to Caltrans, said Bob Haus, agency spokesman.
“We looked at that plan and there were a few changes we wanted to see,” Haus said. “We are waiting to hear back from them. Once everything is approved the project will be ready to go. We will expedite the work.”
While the tunnel is a Caltrans responsibility, the county is taking on the task, Marin officials said.
“It’s a Caltrans facility with Caltrans lights,” said Julian Kaelon, spokesman for the Marin County Department of Public Works. “We are committed to doing it and have secured a grant from Transportation Authority of Marin. But since it’s owned by Caltrans, we need an encroachment permit and we are pursuing that now. We don’t have a firm date yet when they’ll issue the permit.”
Hanson said the time for action is now.
“Everyone I have spoken with is frustrated, and wants to get adequate lighting installed. We live in a world of very complicated — some would say excessive — regulations, that often make accomplishing common sense solutions very difficult,” Hanson said. “Installing LED lighting in our tunnel is a prime example of this.”