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PD Editorial: Still waiting for west Santa Rosa rail crossing

Editorials represent the views of The Press Democrat editorial board and The Press Democrat as an institution. The editorial board and the newsroom operate separately and independently of one another.

No one is going to mistake it for the Berlin Wall, but a pair of chain-link fences still divide a west Santa Rosa neighborhood more than two years after the California Public Utilities Commission cleared the way for a path across the SMART tracks. The 6-foot fences, which prevent pedestrians and cyclists on Jennings Avenue from crossing the tracks without taking a half-mile detour, are a source of friction between the rail agency and the city of Santa Rosa. The CPUC twice approved the crossing over SMART’s objections that it would be unsafe — an argument that seemingly could be made regarding any of the streets crossing the tracks on the 43-mile route between Santa Rosa and San Rafael.

A Jennings Avenue crossing would complement plans for a pedestrian bridge over Highway 101, which will provide a shorter — and safer — connection between SMART and Santa Rosa Junior College. Work on that project is scheduled to begin in 2023. Meanwhile, a two-year extension of the Jennings Avenue plan expires this month. The issue is headed back to the CPUC, and an administrative law judge has recommended another two-year extension. It’s a shame that crossing didn’t get built while SMART service was scaled back because of the pandemic. Let’s not let two more years pass without taking down the fence.

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Editorials represent the views of The Press Democrat editorial board and The Press Democrat as an institution. The editorial board and the newsroom operate separately and independently of one another.

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