WatchSonoma Watch

SMART board applies for grant to extend commuter line


The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit board on Wednesday submitted an application for $20 million in federal money to extend the commuter line to Larkspur.

Grants from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery fund are highly competitive with only about 5 percent of applicants getting money.

SmartBut SMART officials say the project to extend proposed service from downtown San Rafael to the Larkspur Ferry terminal — a distance of 2.2 miles — meets the requirements of being nationally and regionally significant.

“We have a strong application,” said SMART general manager Farhad Mansourian.

The project has been recognized by the Federal Transit Administration and the regional Metropolitan Transportation Commission for linking its proposed commuter rail system with other transportation networks, Mansourian said.

SMART officials estimate the extension’s cost at $40 million. The other $20 million could come from MTC bridge tolls. Jake Mackenzie, a SMART board member and MTC commissioner, said the MTC money could be awarded next month, thus providing matching funds for the federal grant.

“This will end up being a good combination of regional and federal money to complete the southern end of the line,” he said. “I believe we are in good shape this time.”

SMART has tried and failed six times to get funding from the same Department of Transportation grant program. Last year, the agency applied for a $10 million grant for SMART’s bike path.

Fifty-two transportation projects received grants out of 585 applications last year. The DOT program awards grants in the fall.

If SMART is awarded a grant, it could complete the Larkspur extension before the system begins operating in late 2016, officials say. The rail authority has money for design and environmental work on the project.

Extending the line to the Larkspur Ferry terminal would provide the $427 million line with bookends at regional transportation hubs. The northern end of the line is currently near the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.

Officials continue to look for funding to extend the line north to Cloverdale.

You can reach Staff Writer Matt Brown at 521-5206 or matt.brown@pressdemocrat.com.

3 Responses to “SMART board applies for grant to extend commuter line”

  1. James Bennett says:

    Smart, the counties, cities are all FOR PROFIT CORPORATIONS on Dunn & Bradstreet.
    Masquerading as legitimate governments and g’ment. agencies.

    A corporatocracy, a corporate fascist takeover under the guise of environmentalism.

    That’s why they’re always creating ‘black holes’ to steal from.
    ‘Smart Train’ is the biggest local example.
    That’s why there’s always so many zero attached to their projects.

    They profit, we indebt our children.

  2. The Hammer says:

    $20 mil would go a long ways in fixing our roads. Thank God it didn’t rain much this year or what’s left of our roads would be gone.

  3. Omar says:

    I like the idea of the taxpayers in Oregon, Idaho, Florida and many other states paying for our little train. Spread the costs around and keep our costs down.

    We don’t need the fix the roads because we will all be happily riding the train to pick up our bag less groceries and getting them back to our low income condo next to the train tracks where we past our free time watching free public broadcasting and MSNBC.

    It’s a brave new world of total equality and all of our worries are taken over by the benevolent government.