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Sonoma-Marin Train Project Shovel-Ready

A study is ongoing on the centrally-located Rohnert Park station. Officials say construction could begin any day, as the design-build contract was awarded Monday.

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District board Monday morning unanimously approved a $103 million contract for the construction of the rail project between Santa Rosa and San Rafael.

Stacy and Witbeck Inc., of Alameda, and Herzog Contracting Corp., of St. Joseph, Mo., will design and build the 38.5-mile first phase of the project between Santa Rosa and the Marin Civic Center.

In Rohnert Park, the board OK'd a study on what it would take to relocate the city's long-planned Roberts Lake location closer to the city center, near State Farm Drive and Rohnert Park Expressway.

The majority City Council they're in favor of the City Center Plaza location.

"The SMART board on Monday also voted to study the relocation of the proposed Rohnert Park station," according to an article in the North Bay Business Journal. "The Rohnert Park City Council in April recommended the station be moved from Roberts Lake Road to the more central Rohnert Park Expressway, pledging $35,000 to reimburse SMART for the environmental review."

A contract for the second phase of the project between the Marin Civic Center and downtown San Rafael is expected to be awarded in the spring. That phase will cost between $17 million and $19 million, SMART's general manager Farhad Mansourian said.

The segment to be constructed in the first phase, which SMART calls "the backbone of the system," includes rebuilding the existing railroad track with new rail ties and track switches, repairing or replacing 20 bridges, making improvements to grade crossings, and building concrete platform shells and train stations between the future North Santa Rosa station on Guerneville Road and the Marin Civic Center.

The Guerneville Road station is near the Coddingtown Mall and several apartment complexes.

Also included in the first phase is a train station in north Novato at Atherton Avenue. The train, bike and pedestrian project was initially intended to stretch for 70 miles between Cloverdale and Larkspur.

Voters in both counties approved a quarter-cent sales tax to help finance the project, but the scope of the project was reduced because of a funding shortfall related in part to lower-than-expected sales tax revenues.

Opponents have since formed the RepealSMART group, which is circulating petitions to repeal the tax. RepealSMART has until Jan. 27 to gather signatures on petitions to repeal the tax and put it on the ballot this year, most likely in November. The question of whether RepealSMART needs 15,000, 30,000 or 39,000 signatures is still under dispute and may be decided in court.

Copyright © 2012 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

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