WatchSonoma Watch

Santa Rosa considers SMART rail undercrossing



Santa Rosa today will consider spending up to $200,000 to study whether it makes sense to build a tunnel under the SMART rail line to help pedestrians and bicyclists go under the tracks at Jennings Avenue.

The location has been used for years by pedestrians and bicyclists to get across the tracks, which bisect Jennings Avenue.

With the anticipated arrival of commuter rail service on the line in 2015, the crossing will have to be either fenced off to prevent unauthorized use or upgraded with a safe crossing approved by the state Public Utilities Commission.

Work on the track in the area is expected to move forward in October, and if a tunnel is going to be needed, the contractor needs to know soon, explained SMART Chief Engineer Bill Gamlen.

If the measure is approved, the city would agree to pay Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit up to $200,000 to conduct the environmental review and design. If the study shows a tunnel is feasible, the city likely would shoulder most of the $1.8 million cost of the project, according to a city staff report.

The city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan envisions some kind of a crossing at the location, about three blocks south of the future rail station at Guerneville Road near Coddingtown mall.

People cross there now in part because residential neighborhood is located on the east and there is an employment center on North Dutton Avenue to the west.

“It’s amazing how many people use that crossing,” said Colleen Ferguson, deputy director of public works.

The approach under consideration would involve gradually raising the rail bed to a height that would allow walkers and bikers to pass underneath, Ferguson explained

She noted that without the crossing there will be nowhere for pedestrians and bikers to cross the tracks between Guerneville Road and College Avenue, a distance of nearly a mile.

A less expensive ground level crossing faces its own obstacles. The PUC already has said another at-grade crossing will not be allowed at this location, and SMART doesn’t want one, either, Gamlen said.

“We already have a lot of crossings on this railroad; we don’t want to have anymore,” Gamlen said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com.

8 Responses to “Santa Rosa considers SMART rail undercrossing”

  1. litebrite says:

    A crossing is necessary, whether it be at grade or a tunnel underneath. Having no crossings is dangerous. It makes people want to cross at unsafe spots.

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  2. Gene says:

    It seems that the problem is not the crossing itself but PUC and and SMART and their requirements and wants. A crossing should be allowed that doesn’t require a underpass, or overpass. How about an electronic, automatic warning–train’s coming, see this barrier, keep away–don’t be supid.

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  3. j galt says:

    That crossing is SALAMANDER habitat! They live under the tracks!

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  4. Jim Bennett says:

    Yeah, given the current financial climate, that seems like an important priority…

    for ICLEI.

    Lots of zeros.

    Zero regard for constituents.
    Zero regard for their oath.
    Zero regard towards standing up for what’s right.
    Zero common sense.
    Zero morals.
    Zero trust in our system of government.
    Zero back bone.
    Zero fiscal responsibility.
    Zero sense of right and wrong.

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  5. Steveguy says:

    Well my oh my. Santa Rosa can pay $200,000 and the another $2 Million out of what money ?

    I have seen other stories about MILLIONS in Cities’ costs all along the route.

    I guess that the HUNDREDS of MILLIONS isn’t enough to make a choo-choo train line on existing railbed. Wow

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  6. Grapevines says:

    So using the same “brain-dead” logic being displayed here, lets go out and find a lot of locations to spend $200,000 for the “study” (wink-wink, keeps some of our political contributors rolling in taxpayer funds)to say nothing about the $1.8 million to accomplish (keeps the rest of our political contributors rolling in the same taxpayer funds.

    So lets see, Fulton Avenue to San Miguel Road, and Barhan Avenue to Hearn, and that’s just in Santa Rosa. When we start tossing in the other communities one has to wonder where will this end?

    The real amusing item I find is that the justification for this is “without the crossing there will be nowhere for pedestrians and bikers to cross the tracks between Guerneville Road and College Avenue, a distance of nearly a mile.”

    But they leave out that they are stating they want it built two blocks away from an existing crossing, Guerneville Road.

    So spend $2 million or walk or bike 2 blocks? Don’t yell out the answers because I’m trying to think this one out. $1 million per block, and where does it end?

    Another reason to waste funds on something other than the overpaid salaries of the people running this choo-choo into the sunset.

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  7. 4G says:

    Hey, looks like there is too much environmental damage. And it is too dangerous. Cancel the whole project and return the taxpayers money so it can be used to fix the roads and give up a brake.

    It might even help balance the county budget.

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  8. Lets be Reasonable says:

    Why just for pedestrians and bicycles? Why not build a crossing for Jennings Ave too? Seems pretty strange that it is on both sides of the RR and creek, and has never been connected…

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