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SMART Train and Pathway

SMART Train and Pathway Update (January 29, 2014)

MCBC has been working diligently to ensure that the majority of SMART pathway is constructed by the start of train operations in the spring of 2016. We have been working closely with SMART engineers, elected officials and other staff on a regular basis to ensure that:

  1. SMART maintains its promised level of funding for the pathway.

  2. SMART continues to seek funds to make up the shortfall that emerged because of the 2010/11 fiscal crisis- MCBC supports funding of the SMART pathway by identifying funding sources, writing letters of recommendation to funding entities, and working with funding agencies to get pathway funds to SMART.

  3. The SMART pathway is designed and located where it will best serve Marinites and visitors, etc. This includes both in-office and field visits by MCBC with SMART staff to find solutions to the myriad of often challenging site-specific issues surrounding the pathway design.

  4. The pathway is built in a timely manner- completed by the start of train operations in the spring of 2016.

  5. SMART board members continue to understand the importance of the pathway and to make sure it remains a top SMART priority.

  6. SMART marketing materials reflect the whole project including the pathway, not just the train- this has helped to keep the pathway in a prominent place for all SMART staff and directors and has helped to create a further agency commitment to the pathway.

SMART officially breaks ground on the first phase of the train and pathway on February, 24, 2012

There's a train and pathway coming to town!

Join the celebration as SMART officially breaks ground on construction of the first phase of the train and pathway system. Come help us kickoff the start of the SMART Rail and Pathway Project, a vital investment for the future of Sonoma and Marin Counties. You voted for the project and the SMART Board wants you to help celebrate this momentous occasion.

Friday, February 24th, 2012, 10:30 – 11:30 AM 
Downtown Petaluma SMART Station
Petaluma Depot, 210 Lakeville St.

Dignitaries attending will include Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, Congressman Mike Thompson, State Senator Mark Leno, State Senator Noreen Evans, Assemblymember Jared Huffman, Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro, and Assemblymember Michael Allen.

There will be secure bicycle parking available (provided by Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition).  If you are taking transit, the Copeland Street station is nearby (visit www.511.org for schedules).  General parking is also available nearby.  

SMART board approves construction contract
Work begins Tuesday [January 10, 2012]

As reported in the Marin Independent Journal, "work will begin Tuesday morning in Santa Rosa on the controversial Marin-to-Sonoma commuter train project.

"The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit agency approved a $103 million contract Monday to begin work on the project three years after voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax for the rail service.

"'This contract builds the back bone of the SMART rail system,' said Bill Gamlen, SMART's chief engineer."

Read more->

$8 Million to SMART- Train and Pathway Move Forward with TAM Vote 

On July 7th, 2011, the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) reaffirmed its vote to provide SMART with $8 million to support the SMART train and pathway. These additional funds close the project’s $109 million shortfall and will allow SMART to move toward construction of its Initial Operating Segment from downtown San Rafael to Santa Rosa. MCBC thanks all of its members that wrote letters and the came out to meetings that ultimately resulted in this great victory for the SMART train and pathway.

SMART train and pathway project moves forward

On Wednesday, April 18, 2011, the SMART board voted to move forward with the project’s initial operating segment from Santa Rosa to San Rafael, which includes the multi-use path, and to seek bonds for construction. To close a funding gap, the board vote included making some significant funding cuts to the project, including a 1/3 cut to funding for the path. This is the same 1/3 cut that we’ve already reported to you, and which MCBC, realizing that every part of the project would have to take cuts, chose not to oppose.

This vote is a victory for all of us who support the train and pathway because it allows the project to move forward to construction, for the planned opening in 2014. The next step is to work with SMART staff on which 2/3 of the pathway will be constructed with Measure Q funds, and to strategize with SMART and Marin funding agencies on how to find the matching funds to construct the remaining 1/3 of the pathway. 

MCBC is optimistic. Thanks again to everyone who signed our petition earlier this month to save the path, and all who have worked hard to get the project going, especially the SMART staff and board. 

MCBC/SCBC Send Letter to SMART to Protect the SMART Multi-use Pathway (MUP)

On March 15th, 2011 the Marin County Bicycle Coalition and the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition sent a letter to the SMART Board of Directors to urge the Board to fully fund the SMART Multi-use Pathway (MUP).  The letter indicates that the pathway is and always has been part of the SMART system that Marin and Sonoma citizens voted for, and is critically important because it provides access to stations, helps reduce congestion around stations and will help reduce the need for parking, which is limited at most stations.  The letter outlines potential funding sources for the pathway from non-SMART sources, which are very limited thus SMART must not cut Measure Q funds for the pathway. 

MCBC Releases SMART Pathway Principles

On December 23, 2010, the Marin County Bicycle Coalition released 10 Recommended Principles for the SMART Train and Pathway Project.  This important document is being shared widely with MCBC members, SMART and the public as part of our efforts to protect the SMART pathway as SMART begins the process of making tough decisions on how it will close a significant funding gap for the first segment of the project from Railroad Square in Santa Rosa to downtown San Rafael. 

SMART Rejects Grand Jury Recommendation and Supports Pathway

On July 21, 2010 the SMART Board of Directors voted to reject the implementation the Marin County Grand Jury's recommendation to "defer plans" for the SMART Bicycle/Pedestrian multi-use pathway. In November 2008 Marin and Sonoma voters passed Measure Q with a near 70% victory; the measure included both the train and pathway. The pathway is estimated to have 7,000 to 10,000 users per day and will promote a safe and efficient means of getting people to and from SMART stations, many of which have no parking for cars. On July 24th, the Marin IJ wrote an editorial supporting SMART's position. The Marin County Bicycle Coalition applauds the SMART board of directors for this decision, and also appreciates the support of the Marin IJ.

Building SMART- Rail Car Design and Station Planning Information

As SMART moves forward with building the commuter train and pathway system, the Marin County Bicycle Coalition is working hard to ensure that Marin and Sonoma residents get a world-class system with the infrastructure and features that will support bicyclists using SMART.

MCBC, along with Transportation Alternatives for Marin and the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, recently submitted comments on rail car design requesting that SMART maximize space on train cars for bikes, provide easily accessible storage for folding bikes on board, provide convertible space for passengers/bicycles on-board trains (such as flip-up seats) and to consider adding bike-only cars for weekend trains when bike use could sky-rocket.

Our groups also submitted a 36-page comment letter regarding SMART station designs for all 11 stations planned for the corridor. We have requested that bike parking be close to station platforms, that there be ample covered (and uncovered) functional bike parking, and that some train stations have bike stations (for storage and bike repair, etc.) as well as provisions/space for bike sharing facilities.

SMART Funding Gap Information

Additionally, our three organizations submitted a letter to the SMART Board of Directors in reference to the current SMART funding gap. In the letter, we expressed our willingness to support SMART’s fundraising efforts to help close the funding gap at a level proportionate to the cost of the pathway (the multi-use pathway represents approximately 17% of the total SMART capital project cost). We also encouraged SMART to move forward with the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (as required under NEPA) as expeditiously as possible as this is a requirement for attaining federal funds that will likely become available for transit projects in the coming years.

MCBC Advocacy & Outreach Coordinator Andy Peri was appointed as a member of the SMART Technical Advisory Committee. This important committee includes the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition and all of the cities along the corridor and will play a significant role in providing technical assistance for the design of the SMART multi-use pathway, SMART rail stations and rail cars.

MCBC looks forward to continuing our work with SMART and to riding the train and pathway in 2014.

Read the letter co-authored by MCBC and SMART on finances for the pathway, published in the April 1, 2010 IJ

Train and Pathway Description/Background

The 2008 SMART measure contains significant improvements for Marin County bicyclists since 2006 including 100% funding of the $91 million, 70-mile bicycle/pedestrian pathway that will run from Larkspur to Cloverdale (in the 2006 election the pathway was funded at only 57%). Seventy Bicyclist enjoying Rail-Trail facility percent of pathway will be a separated (class 1) bicycle/pedestrian multi-use pathway; the remaining 30% will consist of bike lanes and bike routes on city streets. SMART estimates that there will be 7,000 users of the pathway (on weekdays) and that 10,000 people will be enjoying the bicycle/pedestrian pathway on weekend days. Additional improvements since the 2006 measure include weekend train service and the potential use of lighter, more efficient train cars. The SMART District voted to put SMART Measure Q on the ballot at their regular meeting in July. The quarter-cent transportation sales tax provides an economical, practical alternative and a critical investment for our future. 

SMART is a vital element of Marin's transportation infrastructure and will give Marin and Sonoma residents an ecologically wise transportation option to the heavily congested Highway 101, especially during the morning and evening commute times. Along with its connection to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, the SMART train will give Marin residents an opportunity get out of their cars, helping to reduce congestion and saving considerable time for those who take the train. 

The SMART train and pathway will also significantly help to reduce Marin's greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint. In 2005, transportation accounted for over 60% of Marin's GHG emissions. SMART will directly reduce GHG's by about 124,000 pounds per day by shifting an estimated 5,300 daily trips away from automobiles and onto the train. While a two-car SMART train will have at least 200 seats, it will produce the CO2Carlsbad Coastal Rail Trail emissions of only 12 automobiles. SMART’s two-to-three train cars fit within a city block and will be coordinated with traffic signals so that there will be no delays on city streets. Recent stories in the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle show train ridership up significantly since gas prices have been on the rise. In Salt Lake City, the UTA TRAX Train ridership numbers exceeded their 20-year ridership projection within the first year of operations of the train. TRAX ridership is now more than 200% over the original ridership projections. 

SMART needs two-thirds voter approval, or 66.67 percent to pass. In 2006 SMART came very close to being approved, but was 1.34 percent shy of the needed votes. The Marin County Bicycle Coalition will be working hard to pass SMART and provide sensible transportation options for future generations. 

Please contact andy@marinbike.org to volunteer, with your questions, or to learn more about how you can help support SMART. You can also view the campaign website at: www.smarttrain2008.org. 

SMART Train and Pathway Background

Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) has been working since 1999 to plan, engineer and build passenger rail service along the former NWP right-of-way (ROW) for 70 miles from Larkspur Landing to Cloverdale. The MCBC has been working with SMART since its inception to ensure that a multi-use pathway parallel to the rail line would be included in SMART's plans. To view SMART’s FAQ, click here.

The Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC) supported Measure R, which appeared on the November 7, 2006 ballot in Marin and Sonoma Counties. The 0.25 cent sales tax ballot measure would have provided funds to establish passenger rail service, as well as a bicycle and pedestrian pathway parallel to the rail line, for the 70-mile corridor from Larkspur Landing in Marin to Cloverdale in Sonoma. The Measure garnered more than 65% and was narrowly defeated by 1.34% between the two counties. It is expected that SMART will go back to voters in November 2008 with another funding proposal for the “rail with trail.”

According to the SMART Final Environmental Impact Report, approximately 7,000 bicyclists and pedestrians would use the pathway on a daily basis on weekdays and over 10,000 people would use it on the weekend days. Rail stations are being designed to optimize pedestrian and bicycle access, including on-site bicycle parking at all stations and space for staffed bicycle storage and maintenance facilities at the San Rafael and Santa Rosa station sites. With room being designed into rail cars for bicycle storage, passengers will be able take the train and ride their bicycles to work, school, shopping or for recreation.

In the Spring of 2008, SMART completed a Supplemental Environmental Impact Report to evaluate weekend service, a south Novato Station, alternative rail vehicles and freight use of the SMART right-of-way.

One of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition’s long-term project goals is the creation of a North-South Greenway pathway, along the railroad right-of-way, which will provide connections to transit, businesses, schools, residences and other destinations. SMART owns the railroad right-of-way north of Corte Madera. MCBC will continue to work with SMART to garner funds and support to build the North-South Greenway.

Measure Q: SMART Train and Pathway Victory!

On Tuesday, November 4, 2008, Measure Q passed with a 69.5% district-wide (Sonoma and Marin counties) victory for the SMART Train and Pathway!

After more than 10 years of hard work by the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, Marin County voters passed Measure Q with 62.6% voting yes, a 5 percentage point increase over the 2006 vote. Sonoma County voters passed SMART with 73.5% voting yes.

The SMART train will be running in five years and includes the creation of 70 miles of bicycle/pedestrian pathways and lanes. The SMART train will have 14 stops and 9 bus shuttle routes to ensure connectivity to surrounding residential and business communities.

Yes on Q CampaignersThe MCBC expresses our deepest gratitude to the many people that helped get Measure Q passed. In particular, we wish to thank Campaign Co-Chairs Cynthia Murray, Steve Birdlebough and Marge Macris for their exceptional leadership, Bonnie Moss of Tramutola for her superb strategy, Ben Lowe for his volunteer coordination in Marin, and Denny Rosatti from Sonoma County Conservation Action who led a strong campaign in Sonoma County and strongly supported our efforts here in Marin. We also express our thanks for the tenacity and careful planning of the SMART District, including Lillian Hames and her staff, and to the SMART Board of Directors, including President Charles McGlashan, for their visionary leadership and for fully funding the $91 million pathway in Measure Q.

We also thank the countless donors, large and small, that helped fund this campaign. And finally, we thank the hundreds of volunteers that tabled, installed yard signs, phone banked, wrote letters, attended meetings, and helped with a multitudes of other tasks. Please know that all of you are supporting visionary, green transportation solutions for Marin and Sonoma counties. The transportation transformation is happening!

To stay abreast of the next steps that the SMART District will be taking, or to learn more about specific elements of the SMART train and pathway, please visit the SMART website.

Train and Pathway is a SMART Choice - Marin Voice 8/2/08

The new wave of dishonest statements about the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) bicycle-pedestrian pathway being made by SMART opponents is a terrible, desperate, truth-distorting shame. This move is just one of a long list of such tactics being used to confuse voters about the SMART passenger train and its companion pathway.

San Clemente Pathway Recent statements indicating that there must be 100 feet of separation between the train and the pathway, or the pathway will not be built, are patently false; they have no basis in law or reality.

Measure Q, the SMART ballot measure on the November 4th ballot, will provide 70 miles of multi-use pathways and bicycle lanes, most of which will be adjacent to the SMART train tracks. Using an excellent team of consultants and staff, the SMART District has designed a pathway that is world-class in both its vision and design. It is projected that there will be 7,000 – 10,000 daily users such as bicycle commuters, families, school children, and recreational walkers and cyclists.

The state of California has many operating train and pathway projects. Sprinter Pathway Examples include the Sprinter Train that runs from Escondido to Oceanside. It currently has 6.5 miles of pathway with some areas as close as 15 feet to the center of the tracks. The coastal rail line in San Clemente has a 2.3-mile pathway separated by a small 4-foot high steel fence that is located within 20 feet of the centerline of the tracks in some stretches. 

The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has been involved with the design and environmental assessment of the SMART train and pathway from the beginning, and SMART consulted Federal Rail Administration guidance documents in planning the pathway project. The PUC, which regulates safety on California rail lines, does not have specific guidelines for bicycle and pedestrian pathways. Its General Order No. 26-D does specify that there must be a separation of a minimum of 8.5 feet of side clearance from the center of the track for a number of different structures- the SMART pathway clearance is well beyond this minimum. For additional safety, a barrier will separate the pathway from the rail line. 

The SMART train and pathway continues to be the best alternative to reducing greenhouse gases by 31 million pounds per year, giving commuters another choice along the 4th most congested freeway corridor in the Bay Area. Yes on Q is the fiscally responsible and best vote for Marin and Sonoma residents, for the region and for the Earth; SMART is the right choice for current and future generations. See www.marinbike.org for more information about the pathway, and www.smarttrain2008.org for more information about Measure Q or to get involved helping with the SMART campaign. The Marin County Bicycle Coalition urges you to vote YES on Measure Q on November 4.