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Marin County board reaffirms $8 million allocation to SMART

Marin County's transportation authority has reaffirmed an earlier decision to allocate $8 million to the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit district.

Eight members of the Transportation Authority of Marin board supported the allocation, four were opposed and one abstained at a special meeting Thursday.

The $8 million is a final piece of the funding for SMART's plans to build an initial segment from Railroad Square in downtown Santa Rosa to downtown San Rafael.

"I think it was a wise decision. SMART needs to be given a chance to get off the ground," said Dianne Steinhauser, the authority's executive director. "It is a great financial deal, our small amount of money lets them get started and leverages $10 million in new funds."

SMART is currently re-examining all costs and revenue projections, but it's latest estimate is that the initial line could cost $370 million, or $109 million more than it could afford.

To narrow the gap, SMART's board made $88 million in cuts.

The Sonoma County Transportation Authority also has agreed to put in $3 million and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission $10 million.

The Marin board initially deadlocked 7-7 on June 23. Later in the meeting, Larkspur Mayor Joan Lundstrom asked to have the motion reconsidered and changed her vote to pass it 8-6.

The authority board in closed session also voted to fight a suit filed by Repeal SMART of Novato that had sought to stop the allocation.

The suit, filed in Marin County Superior Court on Wednesday, contends the reconsideration violated the state's open meeting laws and that Measure A, Marin's sales tax for transportation projects, specifically prohibits funds for commute rail.


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