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the Bay Area with SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit)

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Imagine a North Bay with a transportation network of buses, shuttles, ferries, trollies, bike paths, and sidewalks all connected with a centralized rail line that makes it possible to easily travel around Marin and Sonoma counties without ever getting behind the wheel of a car.
It's hard to envision such a network in 2009, when driving on Highway 101 is virtually the sole alternative for travel between the two counties. But the public already owns an asset capable of changing that reality.
The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District--SMART--will build a 70-mile passenger railroad and parallel bicycle-pedestrian path along the publicly owned Northwestern Pacific Railroad right of way through the two counties. The rail line runs from Cloverdale, at the north end of Sonoma County, to Larkspur, where the Golden Gate Ferry connects Marin County with San Francisco. Along the way SMART will have stations at the major population and job centers of the North Bay: San Rafael, Novato, Petaluma, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Windsor and Healdsburg.
The SMART train and pathway project will provide the backbone of a transportation system that ties existing transit systems such as buses and ferries along with future options such as shuttles and trollies into a seamless network that creates true transportation options for North Bay residents. Without that backbone, a congested Highway 101 will remain the only viable alternative for north-south travel.       

The SMART project is estimated to cost about $540 million, the bulk of which will come from Measure Q, a one-quarter percent sales tax increase approved by 69% of Marin and Sonoma voters in the November 2008 election.
With that vote, SMART now moves from the conceptual stage toward the building stage. In the next several months, vehicles will be selected and final engineering will begin. Construction activity should start in 2011, with train service now scheduled to begin in 2014.
SMART will take more than 1.3 million car trips off Highway 101 annually and reduce greenhouse gases (which contribute to global warming)by at least 124,000 pounds per day. Capital construction costs for the rail and pathway project are estimated to be $540 million.
Traffic congestion along Highway 101 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 14 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 within the three largest cities in the North Bay (Santa Rosa, Petaluma, and San Rafael) are being designed with no park and ride facilities, only bus and feeder services to further enhance congestion mitigation efforts. Commuter-oriented service will be provided by an estimated 14 roundtrip trains per day during the week, operating at 30-minute intervals in the morning and evening peak commuting hours. Bicycles will be allowed on board the trains, and weekend service also will be provided.

Reprinted from www.sonomamarintrain.org 

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Global Warming: Myths and Facts
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