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SMART in line for $12.6 million transit grant to extend planned bike path

Bay Area transit planners have recommended the North Bay’s commuter train agency be granted $12.6 million to support the build out of its planned bicycle and pedestrian pathway, SMART announced Thursday.

If approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission as early as this month, the funding would go toward 4.7 miles of new paved pathway in Petaluma, Rohnert Park and Santa Rosa. SMART’s original plan envisioned completion of 54 miles of trail adjacent to the rail corridor and upgrades to an existing 16 miles designated for bicycles and pedestrians, together running the 70-plus miles from Cloverdale to Larkspur.

Only 16.2 miles of the pathway are complete. About 5 miles of the multi-use path across San Rafael, Novato, Cotati and Rohnert Park were completed in 2017-18, with another 1-mile segment in Petaluma due to be built this year, according to SMART.

Should SMART receive the MTC grant, funded through state gas and vehicle weight taxes, the agency will build new segments from McDowell Boulevard in Petaluma to Main Street in Penngrove and from Golf Course Drive in Rohnert Park to Bellevue Avenue in Santa Rosa. SMART had sought to build another 10 miles of paved trail between Windsor and Petaluma through the competitive grant application, but that will have to wait if the request is partially funded, as MTC staff recommended.

“Having an integrated pathway enhances SMART’s successful passenger rail service,” Gary Phillips, SMART’s board chairman, said in a statement. “This funding is a major achievement for SMART and for the communities we serve.”

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin Fixler at 707-521-5336 or kevin.fixler@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @kfixler.

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