Marin County Civic Center Drive Circulation Improvements Project

Enhancing Mobility and a Community Asset


The SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit) station and farmer’s market will now offer attractive benefits for commuters and visitors alike. They can expect a more vibrant atmosphere, easier pedestrian access, improved bicycle paths and an overall look that builds upon the vision of architect extraordinaire Frank Lloyd Wright, who’s historic Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium stands next door.

These new amenities came courtesy of the Civic Center Drive Circulation Improvements Project in San Rafael. As the prime design consultant for this multi-stakeholder initiative, Harris & Associates prepared a design package and coordinated a variety of sub-consultants, including landscape, traffic, geotechnical, utility locating, environmental and survey professionals.

Part of our commitment included the provision of several design options as well as alternative cost estimates so the county could choose its optimum path forward based on available funding. Because some funding came from federal money, Harris packaged the project to comply with the associated requirements.

Core Elements

This highly anticipated project—part of the county’s revitalization efforts around the auditorium campus—included numerous efforts to:

  • Create a welcoming gateway experience into the Civic Center Campus
  • Improve walkability and circulation for pedestrians, bicyclists and disabled individuals
  • Create a transit-serving and economically vibrant environment
  • Incorporate a roundabout, improved bus transit stops, a cycle track and sustainable elements such as bioswales to treat stormwater

Taken together, they bring to fruition the county’s vision to make the SMART station and auditorium area a thriving community amenity for numerous important functions.

Beyond the Blueprints

Harris had the opportunity to work with an involved and vocal community that cared passionately about this initiative. That means balancing the needs of numerous stakeholders, including SMART, the farmer’s market, various transit agencies, Marin County, the City of San Rafael, Caltrans, Marin County Bicycle Coalition, Frank Lloyd Wright Civic Center Conservancy, Cultural Services Commission, local environmental groups and the public at large.

Harris worked closely with County staff, coordinating design updates on a virtually continual basis to expedite the project while addressing stakeholders’ concerns.

We’re also worked to keep the project green. Numerous studies—and Marin County Civic Center Master Design Guidelines—have called for increased vegetation and stormwater treatment at the complex. So Harris experts designed alternative parking lot layouts that improve drainage and attain these goals. Techniques such as linear bioswales and bioretention areas filter runoff before reaching the nearby Las Gallinas Creek and lagoon. Because that creek is home to an endangered species of bird, the Clapper Rail, Harris planned project work around breeding season—which happens to coincide with construction season.


County of Marin


San Rafael, CA


Public Works


Civil Design