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Work on Novato Segments of SMART Line Scheduled

Agency signs new $69 million contract for next phase of project

Work on Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit is progressing, with an Oakland firm selected Wednesday for the next phase of the project, that will include new construction to several segments in Novato.

The SMART board signed an $68.7 million contract with Shimmick Construction for improvements that will include work on the segment from Main Gate Road to Pacheco Circle, as well as from the Manuel Pedestrian Crossing to Grant Avenue and from Rush Creek Place to the San Marin/Atherton station.

Beyond Novato, improvements include strengthening of the Puerto Suello Tunnel in San Rafael, installation of a new bridge to replace the existing Haystack Bridge over the Petaluma river, station platform finishes such as access ramps and stairs, shelters, lighting, seating and the construction of a maintenance facility to house vehicle storage and maintenance, dispatch and train operations and systems.

Completion of the line from San Rafael to Santa Rosa is expected in 2016, with a Larkspur extension done soon after.

"Progress has been rapid since we started construction in the summer of 2012," said Judy Arnold, SMART board chair and president of the Marin County Board of Supervisors, in a prepared statement. 

"This contract will deliver most of the remaining infrastructure for starting service in 2016, and the board is especially pleased that like our first construction contract, the winning proposal is from another Bay Area contractor, delivering local jobs."

Project progress to date includes track reconstruction from Santa Rosa to Petaluma, final steps for permits to continue track construction into Marin in the Spring, signaling and communications systems design nearing completion with field installation beginning. 

The first train set is due to perform a test run on the new tracks early next year.

Shimmick Construction has completed major projects for BART, Cal-Train, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (Muni) and other local agencies. It's playing a key role in design and construction of the $780 million design-build Berryessa BART Extension.

Roger November 21, 2013 at 11:07 AM
For the San Marin station, the Novato planning commission needs to recommend that another lane be added to Redwood or else traffic will back up into the San Marin intersection. That intersection is already one of the busiest in Marin. Also, there isn't really enough space at the station for a bus to turn around. Novato should consider putting a road from Wood Hollow through Fireman's Fund parking lot to San Marin. That way a bus could make a big loop, instead of a tight u turn at Redwood and Wood Hollow (even if a traffic circle is built there).
Karina Ioffee November 21, 2013 at 12:22 PM
Good idea. Do you know how to contact the Planning Commission?
Roger November 21, 2013 at 01:26 PM
I suspect I will chat with some commissioners that attend the town's public workshop in January on the North North Redwood focus area development plan.
Roger November 21, 2013 at 01:43 PM
Ratto said elsewhere in the Patch that the siting of stations is all about room for new development nearby, not about transit. I think he has a good point.
David Edmondson November 21, 2013 at 04:31 PM
@roger - Not quite. Most of the stations are old stations from the NWP line, though there aren't nearly as many as before. In Novato, the city specifically requested the northern station rather than the downtown one.
Bob Ratto November 21, 2013 at 08:02 PM
David E "most" of the stations is a bit of a stretch, no?...there are 4 stops in Marin, correct?...San Marin/North Redwood (oh, wow the housing element just approved included a large property just up the road, and magically a brand new frontage road runs along the highway South from San Antonio-done in way less time than widening the freeway despite no obvious need). Next stop..Hamilton..hmmm is there a developed area in Marin with more land available for development (Silveira does not count), third Civic Center..what were they planning for another 800-1000 units?...this leaves the end of the tracks in San Rafael, where apparently Whistlestop is going to go 5 stories for Senior housing (charming)....Now, since NWP went basically all over Marin (NWP was an amalgamation of a huge number of railroad companies) one could kind of expect that since the same rails are used, (and trains do not turn left or right) that station locations would be at or near former stations...but in the case of Marin saying "most" when there are 4 is a bit of a stretch. I totally understand that you are an ardent supporter of the train (which is great), I think you are not fully cognizant of what the real underlying driver is for the train...and, no moving 156 people or whatever every 30 minutes in the Northern portion of Marin is not a solution, we could use my Golf diesel (And maybe a few more) to move more people more efficiently at much less cost..but transportation is not what this is really about...
Roger November 24, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Edmondson: Yes, the City Council moved the station from downtown to San Marin. The official reason stated to me from City staff is that there was a study that showed most riders on the train for Novato stops would be workers coming to Fireman's Fund. I say if that is the reason, then let's keep the nearby area (San Marin Business Park) zoned for business and not switch the zoning to dense housing. More businesses moving there would maximize ridership according to this study. Novato only has 5% of its land zoned for commercial/business, while Petaluma and San Rafael have more than double that percentage. New bio tech firms could go into the this area (near the Buck center). We need more high-paying jobs in Novato. Placing 120 units of very-low and low income people here right next to the highway and other office buildings seems like the Council didn't have the guts to tell existing big neighborhoods with zero AH to take some, so Council places 40% of their ABAG AH remaining quota in a business park on the northern outskirts of town. Minimal angry voters live nearby. I think the Planning Commission should pick AH sites and then the Council should edit the list if they choose. Some planning commissioners have already stated the best AH sites are sadly skipped sometimes due to politics. What is your opinion?
Craig Belfor November 24, 2013 at 11:05 PM
I'd like to see a survey on AH to see how many of them actually have jobs. It just might be that we're building housing for what we think are underpaid workers who need cheap transportation to their jobs when the result will be that we just go to Richmond to fill these vacancies with section 8 holders who don't work, like we did in Hamilton. We've been sold a bill of goods before by our council in cahoots with the developers, and I don't trust them anymore.
Roger November 25, 2013 at 12:31 PM
Belfor: Eklund tried at one Council meeting to get priority be given to Novato residents when AH units become available. However, the City attorney replied that it would be against the Federal fair housing law. Once built the property management fills up AH units with suggested candidates from helpful agencies in the Bay Area.
Craig Belfor November 25, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Helpful? How come patient dumping is illegal, but dirtbag dumping isn't? I remember when Cuba sent us their prisoners, and I remember San Francisco getting pissed because Nevada sent us patients they didn't want to pay treat on their dime, but we can't house our own while we have to accept their rejects?
Roger November 25, 2013 at 01:03 PM
Craig: Lawmakers in Sacramento are social engineers and feel Marin needs to share the good life (low crime, good schools, clean streets) with the poor throughout the State.
Craig Belfor November 25, 2013 at 01:25 PM
Let's remember that there are many reasons for being poor, and I'll help anyone who's poor for the right reasons, but druggies and boozers are usually poor, and felons don't report their income from robberies, burglaries, or drug sales, so while they get in due to the "I'm just a poor guy" gimmick, what I see is more druggies, boozers, and felons in ever increasing numbers on our streets. Must I share my stuff with them?
Craig Belfor November 25, 2013 at 01:43 PM
By the way, why was Pat the only council member who tried to get Novato residents first crack at affordable housing in Novato? Aren't the others also elected to look out for us? I remember when the Hamilton housing was built for sales to low income, the priority was to be given to Novato residents and workers, but when the speakers at the meeting revealed that "Transitional" housing would also be built within the complexes that people would buy, I asked who these people would be. The speakers got very evasive, so I realized that they were covering up for halfway houses. I told my daughter to pull out. Since then I've moved people out who were constantly victims of burglaries, car break ins, and patio furniture theft. Affordable housing is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

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