SANTA ROSA -- The operations and maintenance facility for Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit will be located at a site near the Charles M. Schulz--Sonoma County Airport, the transit authority announced today.

The location, vacant Sonoma County Water Agency land at 1210 Airport Blvd., will be used to maintain the fleet of trains operating between Sonoma and Marin counties when service begins, anticipated in 2015--16.

“This represents another major step forward in the completion of the regional passenger rail service,” said SMART Chairman Valerie Brown in a statement.

SMART purchased the 5.5-acre parcel, zoned for light industrial use, for $2.7 million, according to General Manager Farhad Mansourian. Staff will begin developing specifics for the facility and construction schedule on Monday, he said.

The site will also serve as a future station, serving the business parks and apartments near the airport, according to the statement.

Work has begun on the first $103 million contract for the  initial operating segment between Santa Rosa in Sonoma County and San Rafael in Marin. The work will proceed south and stop just short of downtown San Rafael, where construction would commence under another contract.