SMART — a commuter train
between Sonoma County Airport and
the Larkspur Landing ferry terminal
— is two years from completion.
BY JIM WOOD
IMAGINE IT’S 2016 and you’re in Sonoma County, a quarter mile east of the county airport, and you want to reach Marin County, 48 miles away, and ultimately the Larkspur Landing ferry terminal. Here’s how SMART, the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit — now under construction — will get you there.
Boarding at the Airport Boulevard station, settle in for a four-mile
run straight to the Guerneville Road station. SMART, as trains do, will
pass through industrial landscape, but nearby are famous wineries
such as John Ash & Co.’s Vintners Inn. Next stop: Railroad Square in
downtown Santa Rosa — and it won’t take long, as SMART trains stop
for no more than 40 seconds at each station (don’t worry, everything
meets rigid safety requirements).
Though Rohnert Park is six miles away, it will take only minutes to
get there because SMART trains reach 70 mph inside of 30 seconds.
After you pass through more industrial areas and under Highway
101, Robert’s Lake Park and Foxtail Golf Club are on your left, and on
the right, that’s the new Graton Resort and Casino. Next stop: Cotati,
where a quaint but new depot awaits.
On to Petaluma. SMART’s run takes only five minutes and the stop
is the decades-old train depot that’s been renovated and is now a visitor center. All aboard for Marin. But it isn’t the old Haystack Bridge
that’s whisking you over the Petaluma River. This newer bridge was
acquired from Galveston, Texas, was repurposed and has 85 years
of useful life remaining. Now settle in for a 12-mile stretch through
scenic backcountry to Novato’s San Marin–Atherton station, on the
west side of Highway 101, walking distance to Fireman’s Fund and
Next stop: Hamilton. If you’re lunching at Hamilton Marketplace, you
get off here. If not, SMART takes a picturesque three-mile loop behind
St. Vincent’s School for Boys, past McInnis Park, then pulls into Marin
County’s Civic Center station, located directly under Highway 101 (you
can also walk from here to Northgate mall). The hop into downtown
San Rafael — which appropriately stops at Whistlestop in the Transit
Center — takes only t wo minutes and passes through the 1,300-foot-long,
80-year-old Puerto Suello tunnel, recently rebuilt to Federal Railroad
Administration standards at a cost of $15 million. So it’s quick and clean.
Completed track, with wooden
ties that will support the new
concrete panel to be installed at
the roadway grade crossing.