PD Editorial: Still waiting for west Santa Rosa rail crossing
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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