Muir Woods managers commence installation of parking posts

January 14, 2016

In an effort to protect the environment at Muir Woods, officials are installing hundreds of posts along a key road to restrict parking outside the park.

It’s one of several steps officials are taking to better handle thousands of visitors who travel narrow roads to visit the national monument. About 1 million people visit the park each year.

Muir Woods/Frank’s Valley Road has room for about 400 cars at the park. Officials are seeking to reduce that number to 110 spaces by installing 1,000 wood posts and cable fencing as barriers over the next two months.

“So far it has gone really well,” said Alex Picavet, spokeswoman for the National Park Service. “It will take some getting used to for people who are from around here.”

Park officials say parking on the road presents a safety hazard, blocks traffic, threatens the health of the Redwood Creek watershed and diminishes the visitor experience.

The work is occurring along a 1.75-mile section of the road that runs parallel to sections of Redwood Creek. In addition, crews will install road shoulder improvements to reduce sedimentation into the creek, home to endangered coho salmon.

Crews will also scrape the road shoulder to encourage the growth of new plants. The park will install straw wattles and erosion blankets to minimize stormwater runoff into the creek.

Crews will also begin modifying an area on nearby Conlon Avenue to support overflow parking to alleviate some of the effects from the reduction of parking along the road. Officials expect this area, which is less than an acre, to be completed by late spring of 2016. It is designed to accommodate approximately 45 vehicles.

“This roadwork signals the first of many positive steps the park is taking to address overcrowding at Muir Woods,” said Aaron Roth, deputy superintendent of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Last year Rep. Jared Huffman developed a seven-year plan to eliminate parking on a road near Muir Woods and to establish a car reservation system to tackle a traffic problem near Muir Woods that has irked neighbors and vexed the National Park Service.

A “memorandum of understanding” between the park service and county to address parking was drawn up last summer and signed earlier this month.

Another part of the plan is to create a parking reservation system for Muir Woods, which would likely cost visitors $8 to $10 and is expected to be in place by 2017.

A reservation system, which would be operated by a concessionaire, would allow the park to meter the number of visitors in advance of their arrival so that congestion could be minimized. The park service’s ferry to Alcatraz operates similarly, with visitors purchasing tickets in advance for a particular time.

In the meantime, road shoulder parking south of Redwood Creek Bridge will be limited, with increased enforcement in the area by park rangers and sheriff’s deputies, who can issue tickets of $99 to who park illegally, county officials said. After the reservation system is in, roadside parking would be limited to 40 spaces for several years, then eliminated south of the bridge.

A slight expansion of the existing parking lot at Muir Woods could also be considered, but officials are adamant that new satellite lots not be built. The park service floated the idea of a new parking lot on Panoramic Highway, but the idea died amid opposition from local residents. County shuttles to Muir Woods would be increased under agreements between Marin Transit and the park service.

Source: by Mark Prado