MARIN COUNTY – Funding is now complete for the first operating segment of the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit system, after a $33.1 million allocation from the Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation Commission on Wednesday.

Along with an additional $18 million from a federal grant, the money will fund the construction of the initial operating segment between Santa Rosa in Sonoma County and San Rafael in Marin, said Valarie Brown, SMART board chair and Sonoma County supervisor.

“We will soon approve our first construction contract, which will create approximately 900 jobs by the end of the year alone,” she said.

SMART board member Jack MacKenzie, who also serves as a commissioner, said that the commission required SMART to prove that it had a balanced budget and complied with the agency’s transit-oriented development policy before receiving the funds.

The money will come largely from the pool of funding available from the region’s bridge tolls, and federal funds will come from the Department of Transportation’s Transit Investment Generating Economic Recovery program.

SMART estimates capital construction costs at $596 million, with an additional $99 million for the corresponding bicycle and pedestrian pathway. The first operating segment expected to be completed by late 2014.