SMART Novato, Board meeting Sonoma Raceway – Amtrak connection

Interesting rail line developments were revealed at the Feb 20 , 2013 SMART Staff and public board meeting. Board Member Announcement section, general managers report; video presentation (4 minutes)

http://sonomamarintrain.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=171&meta_id=2997

An unexpected proposal was introduced to connect SMART in Novato, at the Sonoma’ Infinity’ Raceway venue location. The raceway owners are promoting an event in June and will be bringing Amtrak service from downtown Sacramento to the doorstep of the raceway, leveraging existing railroad lines and infrastructure through Yolo -> Solano -> Napa -> Sonoma counties. The’ve expressed interest to connect this new rail hub into the Sonoma / Novato SMART rail service for future 2014-2015 events. This proposal has the potential of connecting Sonoma/ Marin counties to the Sacramento-SF bay area recreational and commuter Amtrak lines providing greater long term outreach and usage on public rail transit for commuters and businesses. Short term benefit, offering a much needed solution to the horrific vehicle gridlock and public safety issues on Hwy 37 during large events.

General Manager’s report from the February 2013 board meeting.
http://www2.sonomamarintrain.org/userfiles/file/2-20%20GM%20Report%20to%20Board.pdf

SMART Cotati station ~ future Transit Center

Cotati SMART Train Depot

Cotati SMART Train Depot

The new SMART (Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit) Cotati train station and future Transit Center will be located at East Cotati Avenue and Santero Way, a few blocks east of the Rancho Cotati Shopping Center, near Oliver’s Market. Cotati’s ground breaking ceremony started last Fall on October 22, 2012 and the designated property is located along the existing train tracks. The development site has an abandoned school district warehouse dwelling with 2013 -2014 plans for demolition, making way for new depot construction, parking and retail spaces.

This new strategic SMART hub is centrally located to serve the future transportation demands of nearby Sonoma State University and their growing student population, expanding local businesses, and is also situated on the main artery connecting the central downtown community. 1 of the 2 Cotati freeway exits, West Sierra Avenue along the 101 corridor between Rohnert Park and Petaluma also connects into East Cotati Avenue enhancing vehicle accessibility to the SMART train station. Cotati has a long history of train activity, and the original railroad depot was also located on East Cotati Avenue.

The city of Cotati promotes and maintains a comfortable small town atmosphere in Sonoma County and hosts the annual Cotati Accordion Festival every August. Interesting trivia, Cotati’s hexagonal downtown plaza is one of only two hexagonal town layouts in the United States, and is a registered California Historical Landmark # 879.  The city’s unusual name is derived from the Kota’ti tribe-let of Coast Miwok Indians who populated the Sonoma County valley for generations and Vito Paulekas’s Chief Kotati statue in located in La Plaza Park waiting to greet new visitors and welcome residents home every day!

Groundbreaking This Afternoon for Train Deport and Pedestrian Plaza in Cotati The $1.6 million train depot is expected to take 170 construction days to complete.
By Bay City News Editor Karina Ioffee October 23, 2012
http://rohnertpark-cotati.patch.com/articles/groundbreaking-this-afternoon-for-train-deport-and-pedestrian-plaza-in-cotati

Cotati to break ground for train depot
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT By JEREMY HAY  October 22, 2012
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20121022/ARTICLES/121029911

Cotati gets the jump ahead of RP for SMART rail station
The Community Voice By Jud Snyder  August 12, 2010
http://www.thecommunityvoice.com/article.php?id=1643

Cotati Accordion Festival
La Plaza Park August 17-18 2013
http://cotatifest.com/

Cotati, California
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotati,_California

Cotati Historical Society
*Original railroad depot photo located on East Cotati Avenue.
*Vito Paulekas’s Chief Kotati statue in La Plaza Park
http://cotatihistoricalsociety.org/history-of-cotati

SMART North Santa Rosa station

SMART North Santa Rosa

SMART North Santa Rosa

The North Santa Rosa SMART (Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit) station has generated a lot of fiscal concern and political controversy for several years. The original Jennings Park site proposal allocated 9.8 acres for this project and is located at the former Northern Pacific Railroad right-of-way in Santa Rosa. This potential depot site is extremely desirable because it would provide more parking spaces for regular commuters, is situated in a growing residential area and will be accessible to the Santa Rosa Junior College if future development plans materialize to add a bicycle pedestrian bridge over highway 101 nearby.  Unplanned additional construction costs and dwindling resources are weighing at the core of this placement issue and stalling both SMART and City Council representatives to ultimately commit to a final location. The second depot site south of Jennings at the Guerneville Road crossing could also be selected as the future option. The buildings and property adjacent to the crossing could be acquired and developed and the existing road crossing improvements were  previously completed which makes this option financially more attractive than the proposals for the Jennings crossing area. The downside of course at Guerneville Road is the limited parking. The ongoing  revitalization of Coddingtown mall area at Guerneville Road/Steele Lane includes 60 + new stores showcasing a new Whole Foods superstore. The ongoing impressive large scale renovation construction of the malls south wing has also given this outdated-aging shopping mall a fresh start and a promising commercial economic future.

Phase 1 rail line planning discussed and shared on the SMART homepage indicates that the new rail service will begin in Santa Rosa, most likely from this Northern location. The undecided rail stop would sequentially be #4 out of the total 14 planned beginning at Cloverdale -> Healdsburg -> Windsor -> then North Santa Rosa. I’m anxiously waiting to hear the outcome of this temporary snag and this location is key since it will support the interim turn around tracks for the North end of the rail line. I also noticed this week that one of the Guernevile Road rails at the construction area was marked SMART#4. If that is a subtle hint or clue of progress and new developments, maybe the decision has been made, unofficially!  ;o)

Santa Rosa – Jennings depot
http://www2.sonomamarintrain.org/index.php/stations/santarosa

Coddingtown mall
http://www.simon.com/mall/coddingtown-mall

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) Phase 1 chart
http://sonomamarintrain.org/

Related articles:  Jennings / Guerneville Rd. crossing costs & issues

Tough to make a SMART decision at Jennings Avenue crossing
By KEVIN McCALLUM – THE PRESS DEMOCRAT Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20121113/ARTICLES/121119804

Santa Rosa OKs $200,000 study of rail underpass
By KEVIN McCALLUM- THE PRESS DEMOCRAT Published: Tuesday, August 14,2012
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20120814/ARTICLES/120819763

Santa Rosa to consider Jennings Avenue undercrossing
By KEVIN McCALLUM – THE PRESS DEMOCRAT Published: Monday, August 13, 2012
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20120813/ARTICLES/120819815

SMART committee selects Guerneville Road site for train station
By BOB NORBERG – THE PRESS DEMOCRAT Published: Wednesday, June 2, 2010
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20100602/ARTICLES/100609916/1033/news?p=1&tc=pg

SMART station planning
White paper  No 12 May 2008
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/84857028/SMART-Station-Planning

SMART in Santa Rosa ~ Old Railroad Square

SMART - Old Railroad Square, Santa Rosa

SMART – Old Railroad Square, Santa Rosa

I was in Santa Rosa this afternoon and stopped by Fourth Street & Old Railroad Square to investigate the SMART (Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit) progress downtown. I was pleasantly surprised to see noticeable activity and movement on rail construction. Heavy machinery, safety fences and plans for a new platform for travelers are in the works. The existing historic depot building also serves as a California Welcome Center and provides an abundance of tourist resources, guidebooks, maps, a gift shop and even a small railroad museum! (very small). The staff inside indicated that the second Santa Rosa SMART stop will be in Coddingtown. Is it a coincidence that the two Santa Rosa rail stations are being located near the two largest shopping malls? Hmmm.

I usually post photos on Facebook of the various Charles Schultz character statues scattered around Sonoma County as I spot them. The placement of the statues began 8 years ago. Starting in 2005- Charlie Brown, 2006-Woodstock, 2007-Snoopy and finally in 2008-Lucy. Hard to keep track of all of them, and I’ve seen about 40 over the years. The bronze statues of Charlie Brown and Snoopy are proudly displayed in the front garden area at Old Railroad Square. The Charles Schultz museum, ice arena and gift shop are located off of West Steel Lane near Coddingtown Mall. If you haven’t already visited the Schultz art museum and comic collection, it’s a great way to spend the afternoon with family, friends or by yourself.

SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit)
http://main.sonomamarintrain.org/

Railroad Square Santa Rosa, CA
http://railroadsquare.net/

California Welcome Center in Santa Rosa. CA
http://www.visitsantarosa.com/california-welcome-center-visit-us/

Charles M. Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa CA
http://schulzmuseum.org/

SMART is coming to town!

SMART Petaluma

SMART is coming to town! ~ Petaluma

I’ve noticed a lot of local surface street and freeway construction activity in Petaluma recently. It looks like the SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit) groundwork is underway. This new train service will provide 70 miles of the historic Northwestern Pacific Railroad alignment, connecting two counties serving 14 stations from Cloverdale down the North bay corridor to the San Francisco-bound ferry terminal in Larkspur. SMART will also include a parallel 70-mile bicycle-pedestrian trail, which is great planning and forward environmental thinking! I scanned a few postings online and discovered that BART rail costs more than $100 million a mile. Light rail wouldn’t be as efficient, and would also cost more. SMART costs about $7.7 million per mile, which is the least expensive of several options suggested for the NWP corridor. Funding budget was $541 million, with an annual operating costs of $19 million. Existing state and federal funding, fares and a dedicated ¼-cent sales tax (2011 $191 million Measure Q Sales Tax Revenue Bond issuance) will help pay for this project. Timeline, by 2015 – 2016 Phase I completion between North Santa Rosa and San Rafael will be in service. Excellent ~ Follow their progress. @smarttrain

SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit)
http://main.sonomamarintrain.org/