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SMART’s 1st batch of rail cars passes factory tests

The first Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit trains roll off the assembly line at the Nippon Sharyo factory in Toyokawa, Japan, in this undated handout photo from SMART. The trains passed their factory-based tests and are set to be delivered to the Sumitomo Corp. of America plant in Rochelle, Ill. where they will be mass produced.

The first train cars ordered up by the Sonoma-Marin Rail Transit agency have passed their factory tests in Japan and are ready to be shipped to the United States for on-track testing, SMART general manager Farhad Mansourian said Wednesday.

Sonoma County looking to make carpooling easier

The CalTrans park and ride at Petaluma Blvd. South at Highway 101 is nearly always full, Monday April 14, 2014 in Petaluma. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)

Transportation officials have hopes of expanding the Petaluma Park-and-Ride and building a new lot north of Santa Rosa.

Cotati City Council backs moving rare tree

Prue Draper, left, of the Cotati Historical Society and Louise Santero, a longtime Cotati resident, stand next to an rare chimera redwood tree near the railroad track at East Cotati Avenue in 2014. (PD FILE, 2014)

Cotati has always been known as a special little town, and City Council members think saving a rare chimera redwood tree and planting it near City Hall may be the perfect addition to that image.

Major Sonoma County roads improving, at expense of less traveled routes

Sonoma County Roads

After two years of extra funding, the condition of Sonoma County’s major roads — generally those serving as thoroughfares between cities — is improving, officials reported Tuesday. But that has come at a price — the continued deterioration of the larger network of small country lanes and backroads.

SMART board applies for grant to extend commuter line

Smart

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.

SMART halts plans to chop rare tree

Prue Draper, left, of the Cotati Historical Society and Louise Santero, a longtime Cotati resident, stand next to a rare chimeric coast redwood tree near the railroad track at East Cotati Avenue on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 in Cotati. (BETH SCHLANKER / The Press Democrat)

A rare chimeric coast redwood in Cotati will be spared the ax, at least for now, after Sonoma-Marin rail officials bowed to public opposition Thursday and suspended the planned removal of the tree to make way for train tracks.

SMART rail costs rise, but so does length of line

John and Pat Rich ride along the multi-use trail next to the SMART tracks, between 8th Street and College Avenue in Santa Rosa, for the first time on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

The commuter rail line between Airport Boulevard just south of Windsor and downtown San Rafael will cost $427.9 million to complete, about $25 million more than the previous estimate three years ago, officials said.

Sonoma County to update ambitious bike path plan

The Santa Rosa Creek Bike Trail near Willowside Road is used by bicyclists, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. The trail, paved in 2009, was part of a plan by the county that was last updated in 2008. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)

For the hefty price of $340 million, Sonoma County could one day have an unrivaled bike path system, though transportation planners concede that the hard reality of tight funding could put that goal a long way down the road.

Slow pace of SMART bike path construction frustrates cyclists

John and Pat Rich ride along the multi-use trail next to the SMART tracks, between 8th Street and College Avenue in Santa Rosa, for the first time on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

A signature element of the Sonoma-Marin rail project and a key selling point for many of the voters who approved it — a 71-mile bikeway, postponed due to a funding crisis — is moving forward in places, but not fast enough for bicycle advocates.

Highway 101 metering lights to be turned on

Sonoma County motorists merging onto the freeway have zipped past idle metering lights for more than a decade without noticing. But when transportation officials switch them on next year, the on-ramp traffic signals will give many drivers pause.