By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Regional transit planners Wednesday approved key pieces of funding for the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District, a tacit approval of the agency’s $360 million spending plan.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission in a unanimous vote approved $23.1 million in toll bridge funds and $11.5 million in state funds for SMART.
SMART in its latest financing plan is estimating that building an initial 37-mile line from downtown Santa Rosa to downtown San Rafael will cost $380 million.
However, SMART also estimates there are cost-cutting measures in freight operations and in station design and construction that will save $20.5 million.
That total cost, $360 million, is what SMART expects to have in sales tax revenues and local, state and federal funds for construction.
SMART was required to submit a balanced financial plan to the MTC for approval of the funds.
The agency had planned to have the system in operation by fall of 2014, but officials said they now believe it will be one to two years later because of delays in getting permits for construction in wetlands areas.