By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The rail line from Santa Rosa to Petaluma will be a construction zone the next several months as the track is rehabilitated for commute trains.
Dust and noise will be inevitable, but it will be short-lived, Keith Tarkalson, project supervisor for the construction firm Stacy and Witbeck said Tuesday night in Santa Rosa at a public meeting.
“We will be in your backyard,” he said. “You might see us for a month or a month and a half and we will be gone. We will be moving in linear fashion.”
The firm is the major contractor for the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District on the $103 million project to bring 38.5 miles of rail line from Santa Rosa to San Rafael up to standards for trains running up to 79 mph.
About two dozen people who live along the line from Railroad Square to Todd Road in Santa Rosa attended the informational meeting. That stretch of track is the first phase of the work.
Some of the concern from residents was about the construction itself, but as much is was about the noise when the trains start running in late 2015 or early 2016.
“We’ve been told this has been coming for some time,” said Jeanelle Payne, whose back yard is adjacent to the tracks in Roseland. “The noise level is a concern, getting sleep. And the bike path, people next to your fence line.”
Rich Zappa, who also lives near the tracks, is a supporter and unconcerned.
“I want freight. I want passenger trains,” Zappa said. “I was in construction 42 years. I know dust and noise.”
The work will include rebuilding the rail bed, laying concrete ties, installing rail in lengths three-tenths of a mile long, putting on more ballast and aligning the track.
The work will be done with tractors and graders, trucks and from the back of a train designed especially for the work.
Construction will start April 27 near Third Street in Santa Rosa and work south through Rohnert Park, Cotati to Petaluma.
Tarkalson said the work will be done from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. four or five days a week. Residents will be notified if there work hours need to be extended.
Alameda-based Stacey and Witbeck Inc. and Missouri-based Herzog Contracting Corp. have the contract for work from Santa Rosa to the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael. A separate contract will be let within the next few months for work from the Civic Center to downtown San Rafael.