The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit board approved a commuter train station at Airport Boulevard on Wednesday as a regional transportation body allocated $16.7 million to fund the project.

The board's move pushes work on the rail network north of Santa Rosa for the first time and will deliver passengers to a major employment hub near the expanding Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, SMART officials said.

"The companies and employees in this area will prosper with added rail service, and the expanded airport will attract new jobs and increase tourism," said Debora Fudge, SMART director and Windsor councilmember.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved the funding following a committee recommendation last week. Commuter rail service is scheduled to begin in 2016 with trains from Airport Boulevard to San Rafael.

The rail authority continues to look for funding to extend the line south to the Larkspur Ferry terminal and north to Cloverdale.