The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit agency needs another $225 million to get commuter rail and a pedestrian pathway from Larkspur to Cloverdale, as promised to voters in 2008.
That's according to SMART's strategic plan, which was discussed by the agency's board Wednesday. The report is conducted once every five years and offers an assessment of where the rail project is heading.
In the short term, the $427.9 million first phase is on financial track as it rolls toward a 2016 opening. It will provide rail service from downtown San Rafael to Airport Boulevard in Santa Rosa. Marin rail stops will include downtown San Rafael, the Marin Civic Center and stations in Novato at Hamilton and at Atherton Avenue.
"Our phase one project is financially very sound," said Erin McGrath, the agency's chief financial officer. "We are good to go and in very good shape."
But future phases to extend the rail line, along with a pedestrian and bike path, to Larkspur to the south and Cloverdale to the north are not as sure.
For years, talk of a North Bay rail line was slammed as a "train to nowhere" because initial plans had it ending in San Rafael, without connecting to a ferry terminal or large transit center to take people into San Francisco.
When voters in Sonoma and Marin counties approved a quarter-cent sales tax in 2008 to fund SMART, the project was for train service from Cloverdale to Larkspur, along with a path for walkers and bicyclists.
But the downturn in the economy left the plan without full funding and the ability to borrow the needed money to complete all the work as promised. Now the project is being phased.
Finding money for the path and the rest of the rail line is an ongoing pursuit, said Farhad Mansourian, SMART's general manager.
"We're actively trying to find the money," he said of the path. "It is a priority, as is completing Larkspur to Cloverdale." See the full story HERE