WatchSonoma Watch

SMART seeks to consolidate rail crossings


With commute trains still scheduled to run three years from now between Santa Rosa and San Rafael, Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit officials plan to meet with the users of 28 private track crossings on safety issues.

“We all share the concern of the safety of our citizens with trains going by at 70 miles per hour,” said Farhad Mansourian, executive director. “The goal is so nobody gets hurt and to make sure their business and livelihood is not hurt.”

SMART has sent letters to the 300 owners of private crossings on the track from Cloverdale to Larkspur, where SMART plans to someday run trains, and from Novato to Napa, which is SMART-owned track that the Northwestern Pacific Railroad will use for freight trains.

The commute rail district wants to eliminate and consolidate as many crossings as possible for its own safety concerns and to comply with state Public Utilities Commission and Federal Railroad Administration policy.

The 28 crossings in the initial segments range from farmland to the crossing at the Redwood Landfill and Recycling Center in Novato, said SMART Chief Engineer Bill Gamlen.

SMART’s operating committee on Wednesday approved Mansourian’s proposal to meet first with the owners of the crossings from Santa Rosa to San Rafael, the segment SMART is building first because of budget restraints.

The lessons learned in those meetings can be used to deal with the remaining hundreds of crossings elsewhere on the line that will be built later, Mansourian said.

“It is going to be a challenge to find solutions that will satisfy everybody,” Mansourian said. “I don’t believe ‘one size fits all’ will work in such a diverse area.”

He said the cost of holding 14 separate meetings to deal with the issue will be about $50,000.

SMART had proposed charging crossing owners $1,500 to apply to have crossings studied to remain open and an additional $2,600 a year for inspection services, but Gamlen said those fees have not been adopted.

Mansourian is serving as SMART executive director while taking time off from his position as Marin County public works director.

3 Responses to “SMART seeks to consolidate rail crossings”

  1. seen it all says:

    After how many decades of SMART planning (?) this question is now being addressed. Who are these SMART board members, is there an ounce of common sense in the lot?

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  2. Justice says:

    The Cal Train system on the Peninsula kills several citizens a year. I hate to think what will happen here. This rail system was designed for slow moving freight when our county was 1/3 its current population.

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  3. John Galt says:

    And in other news… RepealSMART put the SMART Board on notice that they plan to circulate petitions to ask the voters to either repeal the sales tax that is funding SMART, or to dissolve SMART completely.

    I guess that isn’t newsworthy… no problem. The PD will eventually have to pick it up- when the effects are really felt.

    But for now, I guess Mr. Norberg is going to continue cheerfully reporting the “progress” that SMART is making.

    All is well! Nothing to see here! Move along….

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