Funds OK'd for SMART airport station

[caption id="attachment_58027" align="alignright" width="300"] A fleet of 12 "diesel multiple unit" railcars are under construction for the SMART commuter rail system[/caption]

PETALUMA -- Plans for a commuter rail station near Charles M. Schulz--Sonoma County Airport formally rolled forward on Wednesday, following key votes by North Bay and Bay Area transit agencies.

In simultaneous meetings, the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit board of directors approved plans to include that station in the rail system's initial operating segment, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, on which SMART director Jake Mackenzie serves, green-lighted $16.7 million in funding. SMART's approval of the new station was contingent on that money.

It was the final piece of the $21.8 million needed to construct the station and upgrade existing track.

It has been among the closest-watched efforts by SMART, which included a mention of a possible airport-area station in its 2006 environmental impact report but had yet to establish official plans for construction.

"To add a station we didn't even plan is incredible," said SMART director Debora Fudge during the meeting.

Those MTC funds come from a pool of Bay Area bridge toll dollars authorized under 2001′s Assembly Bill 1171. SMART also pledged $700,000 in funding from the Measure Q sales tax that helps fund the project, and the Sonoma County Transportation Authority allocated $4.34 million from SMART's share of the Measure M transportation sales tax.[poll id="100"]

The board also voted to accept an addendum to its project environmental impact report that found no significant additional impact from the station proposal.

While the station's specific design has yet to be finalized, the general outline provided by the addendum document provided some framework for understanding its configuration. The station will be near a planned SMART operations and maintenance facility at 1210 Airport Blvd. -- roughly one mile east of the airport -- and could feature around 54 parking spaces.

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