By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Rohnert Park commute rail station will be located near the city center in an agreement reached between the city and the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District.
“This is better all the way around, it is closer to the center of town and closer to a larger number of our residents,” said Rohnert Park Mayor Jake Mackenzie, who is also on the SMART board.
The station is now planned to be adjacent to the tracks at Rohnert Park Expressway and near the vacant State Farm building, replacing plans to locate it near Golf Course Drive.
The station will provide a transportation alternative to residents living in a mobile home park, condominiums, apartments and homes that are nearby as well as spur development at the vacant State Farm site, Mackenzie said.
The density of houses and businesses around the new station site would increase the average density around the stations that SMART plans to build in the first segment of the line from downtown Santa Rosa to downtown San Rafael.
With that increase, SMART can now reconsider building a station at Atherton Avenue in Novato, said SMART General Manager Farhad Mansourian.
The Atherton station, with less housing density, would serve the Farmers Insurance offices and its 300 workers from Sonoma County.
Stations at Atherton and at Corona Road in Petaluma were deferred in construction plans for the initial segment, saving SMART $22 million and enabling it to qualify for Metropolitan Transportation Commission funding.
As part of the agreement, Rohnert Park is offering to pay SMART $35,000 for the environmental impact work, which is now nearly complete.
The agreement still needs the final approval of the Rohnert Park City Council and SMART board of directors.
The initial commute line will have stations at Railroad Square in Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Petaluma, Hamilton Field in Novato, the Marin County Civic Center and downtown San Rafael.
SMART is expected to issue a contract for construction between Santa Rosa and the Marin County Civic Center on Jan. 9. Details of the contract have not been released.