SMART Pathway Update SMART Pathway Lags Behind Rail
Since the passage of Measure Q in 2008, MCBC has strongly advocated for the SMART multi-use pathway (MUP) and rail components to be funded, designed, and constructed at the same rate and with equal priority. To date, rail construction has been completed along the entire 43 mile initial operating segment between Sonoma County Airport and San Rafael, while only 10.5 miles of the pathway in the same stretch are complete or under construction.
Approximately 31.5 miles of rail between those two stations will someday have a parallel MUP, with the bulk of the non-MUP mileage falling between Petaluma and Novato.* SMART is responsible for the completion of all but 3.5 miles that were built previously by other agencies. To date, 7 miles have been constructed – or are under construction – by SMART; with the exception of a short segment adjacent to the Novato Hamilton Station (shown above), all of the newly-built segments are located within Sonoma County. 21 miles of unbuilt pathway remain in the initial operating segment.
*The section between Payran Street in Petaluma and the Novato San Marin Station will be incorporated in Caltrans’ Marin-Sonoma Narrows Project and primarily consist of bike lanes along frontage roads.
How SMART is Paying for the Pathway
MCBC and many others have advocated for the pathway to receive a proportionate share of Measure Q funds.
SMART staff reports that it intends to continue pursuing grants to design and construct the pathway, providing Measure Q sales tax revenues where necessary to match those funds. SMART has also leveraged partnerships with city and county agencies, the Bay Trail, and, in at least one case, a private developer.
Bicycle and pedestrian grant monies are in high demand at the federal, state, regional, and local levels. If SMART continues to rely primarily upon grants, the remaining 21 miles will likely be constructed in the same slow, piecemeal fashion.
MCBC Focus in 2017 and Beyond
Segments of pathway that are funded and construction ready, pending permits, according to SMART. From left to right: Novato San Marin Station to Rush Creek Place (Novato), Grant Avenue to Franklin Pedestrian Crossing (Novato), and Marin Civic Center Station to North San Pedro Road.
SMART indicated that 1.7 miles of the MUP–including a .9 mile segment between Marin Civic Center Station and North San Pedro Rd.–are construction ready, pending permits. It is not yet clear whether SMART plans to construct additional segments in 2017.
SMART plans to begin construction on the Larkspur rail extension later this year and has indicated that it will begin seeking funds for its northerly rail extension towards Cloverdale. As focus shifts following the start of passenger service in the initial operating segment, MCBC will continue to urge SMART to complete the pathway between Sonoma County Airport and San Rafael in a timely fashion.
MCBC’s highest SMART-related priority remains the inclusion of the MUP segment between Andersen Drive and Second Street during the construction of SMART’s Larkspur extension. We will provide members with an update on this project in the coming weeks.
Additional SMART Project Background
When MCBC last updated our members on the status of the SMART MUP, we reported a strategic victory in the Save the SMART Pathway Campaign. As part of a last-minute legal settlement between SMART, MCBC, and Transportation Alternatives for Marin, SMART agreed to three primary conditions:
1. SMART agrees to allow the pathway to be constructed from Andersen Drive to Second Street in San Rafael within the SMART right-of-way, if feasible.
The County’s Multiuse Pathway Feasibility Study: Rice Drive to Second Street showed that the construction of the pathway is feasible. SMART has maintained that it will construct the pathway concurrently with its rail extension to Larkspur if the City of San Rafael can secure full funding and bring the pathway to 30% design and environmental clearance in a timely manner.
2. $1 million of outside funding will be committed to the design, environmental clearance and construction of the pathway between Andersen and Second.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission recently released the $1 million to the City of San Rafael for work on this project. The project was also allocated $250,000 by the Transportation Authority of Marin.
3. The parties will form an Ad Hoc Committee, composed of two SMART Board Directors, one representative from MCBC, one from Transportation Alternatives for Marin, and one from Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition. This Committee will be tasked with prioritizing, estimating costs, identifying funding, and targeting grants for uncompleted segments.
The Ad Hoc Committee was formed and met twice in 2016. MCBC, SCBC, and Transportation Alternatives for Marin have asked SMART staff to share more information so that the Committee can make informed recommendations.