Sonoma Taxpayers $23 mil. Gift to SMART

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• HomeUpHwy 101 Widening Project CostsSonoma Taxpayers $23 mil. Gift to SMARTDestFromSonomaMorn.jpg •
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SMART gets $23 million out of the $70 million that otherwise would have gone towards bus .  
the next 2 years.
and all without one vote from marin or sonoma taxpayers on smart rail.


The SMART Board of Directors voted at their June 16th meeting to postpone putting the SMART sales tax measure on the ballot until 2006. The SMART Board directed SMART Project Director Lillian Hames to develop an Expenditure Plan, ordinance and ballot language in order to file for the November 2006 ballot.



SMART and the 20 year sales tax  -  Traffic Relief Act for Sonoma County


What is the Traffic Relief Act for Sonoma County?


The Traffic Relief Act for Sonoma County provides a ¼ cent sales tax for 20 years, generating an estimated $470 million dedicated to transportation projects. The programs and projects contained in the Traffic Relief Act for Sonoma County are based on the recently updated 2004 Comprehensive Transportation Plan developed by the Sonoma County Transportation Authority. The plan identifies goals related to the improvement and maintenance of all the modes of transportation in Sonoma County. The table below outlines the specific percentages and dollars amounts raised for each transportation mode. Another benefit of the sales tax is that locally generated revenues will enable Sonoma County to become a “self-help” county and leverage matching state and federal funds for transportation needs.


Program Category

Percent Share

20-Year Estimated Revenue

Local Streets & Roads (pot hole and congestion relief)


$188 Million

Highway 101 (to help widen highway 101 to three lanes in each direction)


$188 Million

Local Transit & Passenger Rail (restoring and enhancing local bus service and completing initial steps to develop passenger rail service)


$70 Million

Pedestrian and Bicycle (to build/improve bicycle and pedestrian routes that will increase safety, close gaps and provide safe routes to schools)


$19 Million



$5 Million



Why is SMART a part of the expenditure plan?


In June, the SMART Board of Directors voted to postpone putting the SMART District sales tax measure on the ballot until a 2006 election. In anticipation of putting a sales tax measure on the ballot in November 2004, SMART’s current financial plan did not assume funding for the SMART project beyond December 2004.  As a result, SMART will require additional funding to maintain current activities till 2006 SMART ballot measure.  The Sonoma County sucker tax payers will provide funding for SMART to maintain current planning activities, continue Public Education and Outreach and complete final engineering for the rail line and parallel bike and pedestrian path. Obtaining funding for these activities will accelerate the development of passenger rail service for Sonoma and Marin Counties.


How will SMART spend its portion of the tax dollars?


The Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit District will receive approximately $23 million, or 5% of the sales tax. This includes:


Ø      $13 million for final engineering. This enables SMART to gain two years development time before a  SMART sales tax is passed. (Is this presumptuous?) This also enables SMART to obtain matching dollars from Prop.116, the rail bond measure that was passed in 1990.


Ø      $3.5 million for grade crossing improvements in Sonoma County to upgrade and replace deteriorating railroad crossings.


Ø      $3 million for station site development on SMART owned properties; including transit oriented housing and mixed used development.


Ø      $ 3.5 million for providing “transition funding” for current project activities needed to support the SMART project until the November 2006 election.  



EIR/EIS Schedule

One of SMART’s long-term strategies has been to develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that complies with National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) requirements, enabling SMART to qualify for federal funding. As a result of delaying the ballot measure, SMART can now do both the federal and state environmental analyses in one joint document.  The EIS will now be combined with the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), a requirement of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  SMART currently anticipates releasing elements of the EIR/EIS as FTA approves them during the summer and fall. In addition, SMART plans to release the full draft EIR/EIS sometime this winter, with public hearings scheduled for February-March, 2005.