July Martinez Mayor's Message
Jun 27, 2016 11:03AM
● By Rob Schroder
Rob Schroder, Mayor of Martinez
The final phase of the of the Martinez Intermodal project broke ground two weeks ago, with four members of the Martinez City Council donning hard hats and digging a ceremonial shovel of dirt to start construction on the Alhambra Creek Bridge. The bridge, which will span Alhambra Creek from Berrilessa Street, immediately north of the Union Pacific RR tracks, to the new parking lot adjacent to the indoor sports facilities, creates a second access to those facilities and to the Martinez waterfront and marina.
This phase will also include the construction of a pedestrian overcrossing, from the Amtrak station over the railroad tracks to the north parking lot, making the parking lot more accessible to those traveling by train. The access road to the sports facilities and the parking lot will also be realigned. The bridge should be completed by the end of this year, and the pedestrian overcrossing and access road realignment should be done by the middle of 2017.
Private ferry service is expected to commence from the Martinez Marina to the San Francisco Ferry Building this fall, with the recent approval by the city council to allow Prop SF to utilize the guest dock and 50 parking spaces at the marina. I have heard some criticism of the approval due to the city not charging a fee, and the service is not open to the public yet. But the large majority of comments I have heard is that people are excited about the possibility of this service expanding to include commuter subscription and, eventually, public service.
Martinez has been working for over a decade with the publicly operated Water Emergency Transit Authority (WETA) to bring water transit to Martinez. We are still on the map for future expansion, but with the dismal results of the recent ridership study, traditional ferry service to Martinez is many years off into the future. The arrival of Prop SF in Martinez and other cities where WETA is not ready to expand service brings the reality of water transit at no cost. This is a free “beta” test that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if funded by a public entity
If you have been downtown in the last few months, you have probably seen several buildings under construction and several vacant structures. At first glance, it may look like we are experiencing an economic downturn, but just the opposite is happening. The Unreinforced Masonry (URM) retrofit ordinance is in its final phases of implementation, with all but one building fully retrofitted, in process, or about to begin construction.
Several long time property owners have improved their buildings, while others have sold to new owners that are going far beyond just an earthquake retrofit of their buildings. They are investing in the buildings with completely new wiring, HVAC, plumbing, and ADA improvements. Some are adding residential spaces on the second floor, which is exactly what downtown needs: a critical mass of people living downtown to support existing business and attract new businesses. Martinez is getting the attention of a new type of resident that is having coffee on the dining platforms in the morning, catching the train to get to work, and riding their bikes and hiking the trails on the weekends.
Take a look at the recently retrofitted building on Castro Street. Two years ago, that building was empty and an eyesore. Today it is full of new businesses and people. I see this trend continuing as each building is completed and becomes available. I am excited about these new projects and improvements finally coming to fruition. We are becoming the community of “we can” instead of “we can’t.”