Capdiamont\’s Weblog


NWP area railroad news
Monday 15 Feb 2010, 10:14
Filed under: Arcata, bicycle, Humboldt, Marin, Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Railroad, SMART, Sonoma

NCJ: Rail With Trail

Transpo factions meet in detente over Arcata’s new trail plans

By Heidi Walters

The overt rancor that’s been known to occur between train enthusiasts and trail advocates seems to have been put on simmer of late, as the City of Arcata leads the way with a multi-stakeholder, collaboratively conceived plan for an initial trail-with-rail project.

A well done article. Some things to note, the Skunk train actually turned a profit this past year.

MIJ: Marin Voice: Committed to SMART’s success

By Debra Fudge, Barbara Pahre and Charles McGlashan
Posted: 02/14/2010 09:03:47 AM PST

IN NOVEMBER 2008, nearly 70 percent of the voters in Sonoma and Marin counties supported the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit project, a 70-mile passenger train and pathway connecting all the cities along Highway 101, from Cloverdale to Larkspur.

We are moving this project forward at a time when most government agencies are struggling to get by in this deep economic recession.

SMART has not been spared; the resulting 9-percent drop in sales tax revenue leaves a $155 million shortfall in our plan to build the entire line by 2014. Since May, when we first reported this shortfall, we have been looking for ways to fill that gap.

One idea, discussed at last month’s public meeting, was to build the train in two phases, with the goal of having the train running along the whole route by 2016. This option would depend upon SMART receiving funds from a federal program called “New Starts.”

If we built the train on a “pay as you go” basis, with no new funding, the line might not be complete until 2021. No one on our board liked that option.

So, the board voted unanimously to explore the possibility of New Starts funding.

Unfortunately, media reports portrayed us as having already decided where to build the train first, with some accounts implying that we had abandoned Sonoma County.

These reports were simply wrong.

Now, several weeks later, SMART has learned that the federal funding we would need in order to even consider the two-phase option may not be available to us due to regional funding priorities for BART and other large rail transit projects in the Bay Area.

Still, when we met with Metropolitan Transportation Commission representatives last week, they told us they want to help us solve the shortfall for the SMART project, and the agency is willing to provide regional assistance to SMART to tackle our funding gap.

We are very encouraged by this response and look forward to working with our regional partners at MTC and around the North Bay to deliver this important regional rail and pathway project.

Unfortunately, as we explore these strategies for making this project whole, some who oppose the train and bike path are happy to spread the erroneous impression that the SMART board would leave Sonoma County in the dust. On top of that, a petition is being circulated accusing the SMART board of betraying the voters.

Let’s be clear. Bringing a 21st century transportation system to both Sonoma and Marin is absolutely vital for the future of the region. It means a cleaner environment, more jobs and less traffic.

We and our fellow board members are committed to minimizing SMART’s financial challenge, securing alternative revenues and, most importantly, ensuring that the entire system gets built as quickly and efficiently as possible.

We will continue to move this project forward toward that goal.

You can help us by taking part in our station design workshops being held this month and other meetings and workshops that will be held. See the current meeting schedule at www.sonomamarintrain.org.

We urge everyone to come out, make your voices heard, and join us in planning the future of your SMART train.

Debra Fudge is chairwoman of the SMART board. She is a Windsor City Councilwoman. Barbara Pahre of Napa is SMART’S vice chairwoman and represents the Golden Gate Bridge District Board on the SMART board. Marin County Supervisor Charles McGlashan of Mill Valley is a SMART board member.

Some to note of this, is this project would of been done, and fully financed if it would of been passed just one time prior to when it did.

SRPD: Commuters create wish list for Sonoma-Marin train

Leather-like seats for two with a work table, a bar with drinks and snacks, and hangar-style bicycle racks are some of the amenities that North Bay commuters say they want in their trains.

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