SMART rail plan could face changes, delay

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit officials will release new financial figures Friday that may cause a redesign of the plan and possibly delay the start of service between downtown Santa Rosa and downtown San Rafael.

SMART Chairwoman Valerie Brown said the new figures will include both unanticipated costs and revenues, but will not derail the project.

Neither Brown nor other SMART officials would reveal the specific projections in the financial report pending its public release.

"I do believe we will be able to present a picture of a doable project, with some changes here and there, some changes in options. But I am not concerned at all the project is not doable," she said, adding that it will be done in a timeline "we can live with."

The staff report follows a two-month review by Farhad Mansourian, Marin County's public works director and SMART's temporary executive director.

The SMART board will receive the report and decide how to revise its plans at its Aug. 17 meeting, Brown said.

The report is being released Friday to meet a deadline set by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to qualify for regional funding.

SMART's current plan is to start in the fall of 2014 with service from Railroad Square in Santa Rosa to downtown San Rafael at a cost of $370 million. The current plan also calls for issuing requests for construction proposals and to begin selling construction bonds next month.

To meet those cost projections, the SMART board identified $88 million in cost-saving measures. It is also counting on receiving $10 million from the MTC, $8 million from the Transportation Authority of Marin and $3 million from the Sonoma County Transportation Authority.

To receive those funds, however, the MTC is requiring SMART to submit a report by July 27 re-affirming that costs have not risen beyond earlier estimates, or it will trigger new hearings and discussions.

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