Funding OK could extend SMART to airport

A commuter rail station could be built near the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport if a regional transportation panel allocates the funding today.

A Metropolitan Transportation Commission committee will decide on the $16.7 million request from Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit board.

On Monday, the Sonoma County Transportation Authority allocated $4.3 million for the project, which would extend the commuter rail service four miles north to Airport Boulevard when it opens in two years.

"Our board is interested in the last segment to Airport Boulevard," said James Cameron, SCTA deputy director.

If the MTC Programming and Allocations Committee recommends funding the project, the full commission would have to vote on it next week, said John Goodwin, MTC spokesman. It is "highly unusual" for the commission to vote against a committee recommendation, he said.

"Once it passes the committee, it's first and goal at the one," he said.

The MTC approved $11.7 million for the project in January, and its action today would allocate that money plus an additional $5 million. MTC funds come from bridge tolls.

"There are a lot of moving parts to this," said Carolyn Glendening, SMART spokeswoman. "We're hopeful the committee will approve the request."

With the funding in place, the SMART board could approve an airport station at its meeting next week, officials said.

A station near the airport would serve Sonoma County travelers, especially once a project to expand the runway to accommodate larger jets is completed next year.

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