Fairfax-Bolinas Road in West Marin at milepost 5.73 (approximately 2 miles west of Azalea Hill) is single-lane access with two-way traffic controlled through one lane. This condition is at the construction zone only and will remain in place until project is completed. See project webpage for more details. Thank you for your patience while this project progresses.

Revised Sir Francis Drake Boulevard Lighting Moves Forward

Posted on April 14, 2022

For Immediate Release –

San Rafael, CA –

Dimmer light fixtures and decorative poles planned due to community feedback


Example of street light poles on the SFD median that will be replaced by decorative street light poles
A selection of street light poles and fixtures along approximately one third of a 2.2-mile stretch of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard will be replaced with shorter, decorative poles and dimmer fixtures.

The Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW) is in the process of revising the street lighting along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard between the Town of Ross and Highway 101. The lighting update project would address the enhanced street lighting that was installed during the Upgrade the Drake project, which was completed in November 2021.

In response to community concerns, the proposed lighting project is intended to reduce light dispersal on adjacent properties, decrease light intensity and improve aesthetics while still maintaining the lighting uniformity levels necessary for public safety along Drake Boulevard. Statistically, uniform nighttime street lighting improves safety for all modes of transportation.

The Marin County Board of Supervisors will consider approving the project to replace median light poles between Eliseo Drive and Manor Road at the April 19 public meeting at the Marin County Civic Center, 3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 330, in San Rafael. The Board will consider moving forward with purchasing decorative light poles, which would cost an estimated $300,000, as well as putting the construction contract out to bid for the lighting update installation project.

To keep the cost as low as possible, the decorative poles would be ordered directly from the distributor and DPW plans to reuse the pole foundations already installed wherever possible. The street light revisions are being funded by the remaining budget of the Upgrade the Drake project and the Marin County Street Light Fund. To further offset the cost, DPW plans to explore resell opportunities for the currently installed street light poles, which are a standard pole design used across California.

The new median lighting would replace light poles and fixtures along approximately one third of the 2.2-mile corridor with shorter, decorative poles and dimmer fixtures. It should be noted that the shorter, decorative poles with the dimmer fixtures will require closer spacing to achieve sufficient light levels and uniformity on the roadway, resulting in a net increase in total lights.

The proposed pole replacements are expected to begin construction before the end of 2022, but the timing hinges on when the new decorative poles are available. The poles require significant manufacturing lead time, taking approximately six months to be fabricated and delivered. Pending the Board decision at the April 19 meeting, moving forward with placing the pole order in advance of awarding a construction contract will help expedite the potential future project.

In January 2022, DPW replaced lighting fixtures at intersections and added backshields to help block light dispersal outside of the roadway and sidewalks. In June, the County will replace all of the remaining light fixtures on existing poles throughout the 2.2-mile corridor. The existing fixtures have a brightness of 12,000 lumens and the replacement fixtures will typically have brightness of 5,000 to 8,000 lumens. Additional backshields will be added to reduce light dispersal outside the roadway when appropriate.

The completed $18 million Upgrade the Drake project was the most significant improvement effort in 25 years for Drake Boulevard between Highway 101 and the Town of Ross. In addition to repairing and paving the heavily used 2.2-mile stretch of roadway and implementing improvements such as revised lane configurations and drainage, the work also included numerous safety upgrades and long-term underground utility updates.

In response to the community reaction in February 2021, when the lighting improvements constructed during the Upgrade the Drake project were initially illuminated, DPW turned off the new median street lighting and began the process of reevaluating the design. Lights at the eight intersections along the project corridor have remained illuminated for safety reasons.

Community members interested in learning more about the proposed lighting project, as well as the separate landscaping project along the corridor, can find the information on DPW’s projects webpage.


Eric Miller
Assistant Director
Public Works

3501 Civic Center Drive.
San Rafael, CA 94903

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