Saturday, October 8, 2016

[TransportNews] Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) Opening Soon

With the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) opening for revenue service soon, TransportiCA would like to provide an overview of SMART from the system's website.

What is SMART?

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) is a passenger train and bicycle & pedestrian pathway project located in San Francisco’s North Bay. SMART will provide rail service along 70 miles of the historic Northwestern Pacific Railroad alignment, connecting urban and rural residents of the two counties with jobs, education and health care services in the region. The project revives the long-dormant but publicly owned railroad right of way, serving stations from Cloverdale in Sonoma County to the San Francisco-bound ferry terminal in Larkspur, Marin County.


SMART provides an alternative to Highway 101 traffic by upgrading the existing rail line and building a new bicycle/pedestrian pathway linking the system's rail stations. SMART’s environmental studies project 5,000 to 6,000 passenger trips per day will be made on the train and 7,000 to 10,000 daily trips will be made on the  bicycle/pedestrian pathway.

The rail project will take more than 1.4 million car trips off Highway 101 annually and reduce greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming, by at least 124,000 pounds per day.  

The SMART rail corridor parallels Highway 101, the only north-south transportation facility in the North Bay. Traffic congestion along this corridor has increased dramatically in the last decade and it is now ranked by Caltrans as one of the most congested freeways in the Bay Area. Over 80% of all North Bay commercial, residential and educational facilities are located along the SMART corridor. The SMART project is being designed to reduce the North Bay’s reliance on the single-occupant auto and to provide multi-modal, fuel-efficient alternatives to existing traffic and congestion on Highway 101. In addition, the rail project will enhance and improve the region’s land use policies and preservation of agricultural lands by restricting all rail stations to incorporated areas.

The stations along the corridor are being designed to accommodate available feeder bus services, shuttle services and, in selected suburban locations, park and ride facilities. Stations in the core areas of the three largest cities in the North Bay – Santa Rosa, Petaluma and San Rafael – are being designed with no park and ride facilities, helping create more walkable downtowns and allowing bus and feeder services to further enhance congestion mitigation efforts.

Commuter-oriented passenger train service will operate at 30-minute intervals in both directions during morning and evening peak commute hours during the week, with a mid-day train planned as well. Bicycles will be allowed on board the trains; weekend service also is planned. 

SMART will use Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) vehicles manufactured in Rochelle, Illinois, by Sumitomo Corp. of America/Nippon Sharyo. The DMU is quieter and cleaner than conventional locomotive-hauled equipment. These self-contained rail cars include on-board engines and are capable of using alternative fuels such as waste-derived bio-diesel. Two-car train sets carry about 158 seated passengers, 160 standing passengers, and provide on-board storage up to 24 bikes (depending on the mix of bicycles, wheelchairs and strollers and the use of flip seats) and fit within a downtown city block to avoid blocking intersections.

The first phase, a 43-mile rail and trail project connecting the county seats and population centers of San Rafael and Santa Rosa, is scheduled for completion in 2016. Extensions north and south will be developed as additional funding are identified and secured.

Key activities related to the project’s implementation include the following milestones:
  • Certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report – 2006
  • Supplemental EIR – 2008
  • SMART Sales Tax Measure approved with near 70% majority – Nov. 2008
  • 20% level of design completed – July 2010
  • Railcar manufacturing contract – January 2011
  • First major construction contracts released and Phase 1 extended to Guerneville Rd. in Santa Rosa – Summer/Fall 2011
  • First major construction contract awarded – Spring 2012
  • Construction begins – May 2012
  • Systems contract awarded – Fall 2012
  • Second major construction contract awarded – Fall 2013
  • Phase 1 extended to include new station near Sonoma County Airport – December 2013
  • Passenger rail service begins – 2016


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