SMART delay fails to halt Healdsburg train station plans

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Plans for transforming Healdsburg's old railroad station into a modern-day transportation hub are going ahead.

Sonoma County supervisors this week approved funds for a commuter parking lot and construction of a pedestrian and bike path path to the station.

Fourth District Supervisor Mike McGuire said in a statement that the hub will provide a vital link to the future commuter rail system and "create connection to tremendous economic development opportunities for the City of Healdsburg."

But a funding shortfall has created uncertainty over when Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit service will reach Healdsburg.

Originally, the 70-mile line from Larkspur to Cloverdale was supposed to be operating by late 2014. But that's been delayed. SMART directors are now planning to build in stages, beginning with the 37-mile portion from Santa Rosa to San Rafael.

Healdsburg Mayor Tom Chambers said he was pleased to see any progress. "I'm glad it's moving forward," he said of improvements surrounding the depot area.

He said it's important that SMART train service get started, "even if it's just from Santa Rosa to San Rafael."

In the meantime, county supervisors have committed $195,450 in local Transit Development Act funds toward construction of a 47-space commuter "Park and Ride" lot at the historic Healdsburg depot site.

Regularly scheduled passenger train service to Healdsburg ended in 1958, and the depot has been boarded up for years.

The funds will also help create a bike and walking path from the depot to the five-way intersection at Healdsburg Avenue. Overall cost of the project is $1.3 million, which is largely funded by federal transit funds.

The planned path will be part of Healdsburg's Foss Creek trail, which is scheduled to be extended south from the train depot to Front Street by this fall, according to Healdsburg Public Works Director Mike Kirn.

The new parking is intended to transform the historic train station on Harmon Street into the town's main transit center to accommodate carpools, buses and the future commuter rail service.You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or

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