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Imagine Hopping on BART to Get to Marin County

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Welcome to Curbed SF's Could Have Been, where we investigate some of the most outlandish and grandiose proposals that were never built. Know of a plan that never saw the light of day? The tipline's always open or you can leave a comment after the jump.

BART train heading north in Marin County leaving Sausalito, 1961 [Photo: map master Eric Fischer]

Traveling to and through Marin County from San Francisco can take forever when the 101 is plagued with traffic. If only the early plans for BART access to Marin had come to fruition, the regional transit system would have crossed the bay to our neighbors in the north.

The early ideas for region wide transit system started as early as the late 1940s, with formal planning beginning in the 1950s. In 1951, a 26-member San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Commission, with reps from each of the nine Bay Area counties, was created by the State Legislature. They released their findings in a 1957 report, recommending a three-phase plan to connect a five-county rapid transit district. This plan was massive, reaching all the way south to San Jose and Campbell, north to Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Napa, and Fairfield, and east to Brentwood:

1956 BART district plan, in three phases (click to enlarge to mega-scale) [Photo: Eric Fischer]

The first phase (indicated in the above map by the solid line) included much of what currently exists, except for an unbuilt Marin County line that called for stations in Sausalito, Mill Valley, Larkspur, and San Rafael. It also would have called for an extension in San Francisco underground from downtown to California & Kearny, Green & Columbus, and Van Ness & Lombard, with an elevated line down Lombard and into the Presidio paralleling Doyle Drive. But how would it cross the bay? How about a lower level deck on the Golden Gate Bridge?

Golden Gate Bridge with BART below present deck, 1961 [Photo: Eric Fischer]

The Sausalito station was planned to be elevated near Nevada Street, to serve both Sausalito and Marin City. In Mill Valley, a surface level station at Camino Alto would cater to Mill Valley and Tiburon, while a Baltimore Park area station in Larkspur would be near Larkspur and Corte Madera commuters. The San Rafael portion would have followed the existing Northwestern Pacific Railroad line, ending at a station near Irwin Street. The last Marin station in the first phase would have ended at St. Vincent's in San Rafael. Future phases would have extended the line up through Petaluma and Santa Rosa, eventually even connecting to Sonoma and Napa.

Details of the proposed Marin Line, 1956 (click to enlarge) [Photo: Eric Fischer]

So what the heck happened to this plan? After almost a decade of planning, a final recommendation was submitted to the supervisors of the five District counties for approval. San Mateo County Supervisors decided the costs were too high, especially since they already had existing Southern Pacific commuter trains, and voted not to be a part of the plan. ">Without San Mateo's tax base contribution, Marin withdrew in early 1962, citing an inability to absorb the extra cost. But there were also lots of rumblings and controversy from Marin County citizens over the increase in population density and the feasibility of carrying trains across the Golden Gate Bridge.

BART employees in 1970, not at all relevant to this post but too awesome to not include [Photo: BART]

The existing BART lines officially opened in 1972, but since then talks of expansion have never ceased. Work on a Silicon Valley expansion and Oakland Airport connector has already started.
· BART: A history [BART]
· Regional Rapid Transit: Marin line, 1956 [Eric Fischer]