SMART work rolling toward early 2016 service

With reconstruction of the Sonoma-Marin commute rail line well under way, officials say the system is within budget and on track to begin service in early 2016.

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit district, in an initial progress report, said it has awarded construction contracts totalling $153.5 million.

A second round that could total about $150 million will be awarded by spring, leaving an additional $60 million for staffing and engineering, said Farhad Mansourian, SMART's general manager.

"Once we award those last two contracts, we will know exactly where we are, budget-wise," Mansourian said. "From where we are, everything looks good."

SMART'S directors have adopted a

$360 million plan to rebuild the line, construct stations and buy rail cars. Service from Guerneville Road in Santa Rosa to downtown San Rafael now is likely to start in early 2016.

Revenue generated by a quarter percent sales tax rate in the two counties, SMART's major funding source, are running 5 percent ahead of projections. For 2012, sales taxes are expected to be

$28.3 million.

SMART has a $104,380,000 contract with Stacy & Witbeck Inc. of Alameda and Missouri-based Harzog Contracting Corp. to rehabilitate the line from Santa Rosa to the Marin County Civic Center. The district also is spending $9,142,647 to upgrade the crossings.

SMART said that two-thirds of the workforce hired by Stacy & Witbeck is from the North Bay, although it could not provide a specific number of workers on the project. Instead, officials said that since work began July 9, there have been 95,276 work hours completed by employees of the main contractors and subcontractors.

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