Brigade Lights Up Sausalito–Marin City Tunnel

This photo by David Suto  |  all other photos ND Koster  |  post by Jenny Stein
One half of the Tunnel Lighting Brigade gathered on the Sausalito side
while on the Marin City side the other half of the Tunnel Lighting Brigade stood ready
At the signal both sides began walking towards each other, with the intention of meeting in the middle
and then passing each other to walk to the other side and back again
But first the two groups—really one strong community group—enjoyed the camera flash and symbolism of the moment
Back on the Marin City side everyone gathered for speeches and special thanks
With votive candles adding to the illumination and with a boom box to serve as loudspeaker
Sausalito Mayor Joan Cox (L) and Monique Brown, Director of MCCSD (R) gave brief speeches to commemorate the occasion
A very special thanks to all who made this possible—not least the community for rallying to show their support

Saturday Dec 16, as winter light gave over to darkness, two bands of civic-minded citizens met and merged in the pedestrian tunnel connecting Marin City to Sausalito. On any given day the walkway beneath Highway 101 is a dimly lit—if not threatening—passageway. The 5’2″ high metal bars that run the length of the tunnel—intended as a protective barrier—can all too easily feel like a cage.

Saturday evening the tunnel was transformed. Bundled against the chilly night air, illuminated by flashlights, and animated by scores of community supporters, the self-proclaimed Tunnel Lighting Brigade lit up the tunnel for all to see. Tunnel Lighting Brigade organizer Sonja Hanson said it best:

It was by all accounts a positive gathering of our two communities—may we have many more. We started from both ends of the tunnel at 6 p.m.—we were a sparse lot—but over the next 15 minutes more people began emerging out of the dark. By the time we met mid-tunnel we were 50 [strong], and as we all walked back to the Marin City basketball court, we added a few more.

A boom box and microphone were waiting on a table laden with votive candles. Monique Brown, Director of MCCSD (Marin City Community Services District) spoke first, thanking CalTrans, County officials and staff, and Jonathon Goldman, Director of DPW Sausalito. Joan Cox, Mayor of Sausalito spoke next.

In fact there were numerous people and agencies to thank. In addition to those mentioned above, thanks went to the office of California Senator Mike McGuire, County Supervisor Kate Sears, and not least Sonja Hanson herself. Without the Tunnel Lighting Brigade we would still be waiting for proper lighting in the pedestrian walkway. The necessary permits are in place, the project goes out for bid at the start of the new year, and we can expect new lighting by mid-March. For the full details see Mark Prado’s MarinIJ coverage: Marin City-Sausalito underpass lighting project advances.

More than a victory march, the evening was a show of what communities can accomplish when they band together. Fittingly, Monique Brown (MCCSD) used the occasion to quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that,” and went on to say, “Were gathered here in the name of light, and love. And we appreciate you coming out to support our community and the fact that we have worked very hard to make sure both our residents are safe, have a beautifully lit tunnel, and also to commemorate those who have lost their lives as a result of the tunnel not being as safe as it should be.”

Sausalito Mayor Joan Cox had this to add:

“It means so much to have the City of Sausalito and the city of Marin City come together in such a collaborative partnership. It’s so important because our schoolchildren, our residents, use this tunnel every day and a well-lighted tunnel means a safe tunnel,” concluding her remarks with, “We can actually see light at the end of the tunnel.”

As Mark Prado notes, “The work plan even has an official name: the “Donahue Undercrossing Lighting Project.”

Previous coverage: Join the Tunnel Lighting Brigade – Sat Dec 16