The SMART rail passenger system debuted August 25, offering commuters a safe, congestion-free way to travel.
Stacy Witbeck, Inc. and Herzog Contracting Corp. were the design-build team for the 43-mile initial operating system from the San Rafael Civic Center Station to the Santa Rosa Airport Station. STV Inc. provided professional design services for civil, track and structural improvements.
The existing freight line was removed, the guideway was reconstructed, and ballasted track installed to accommodate freight operations and environmental work windows.
Portions of SMART’s right-of-way and every bridge pass through several biological and cultural areas adjacent to an environmentally sensitive waterway, with some subject to tidal influences. At the Novato Creek Bridge, the waterway was dammed so work could begin. Water-filled bladders were used to hold water back, capture and relocate fish around the diversion.
Some 240,000 feet of new track was installed on 113,000 concrete crossties. Nine bridges were replaced, and nine more repaired. Eight full-bridge replacements were made– including removal of the existing bridge, driving piles, installing new precast bridge structures, and laying the rail. Some bridges were as long as 284 feet.
Staying within 10-day bridge replacement windows required innovative approaches, such as precast concrete pile caps, abutments, and decks. STV accelerated the design for the repair, rehabilitation, or replacement of 26 timber and steel single and multi-span bridges.
Other notable features include 48 public and 18 private grade crossings, extensive drainage work, and eight station substructures.
The team coordinated new grade crossings and other improvements with roadway authorities in ten municipalities, with the CPUC and the Northwestern Pacific Railroad, which operates freight service on the line, to schedule test trains and work windows to keep the aggressive design-build schedule on track.
“SMART is a North Bay game changer,” said Farhad Mansourian, SMART general manager. “Sonoma and Marin County residents now have an option to spending hours each day in gridlock traffic. Many of our passengers say having this alternative to fighting road traffic has improved their quality of life giving them more time for family and friends —you can’t put a price on that.”