Battle Brews In North Bay Over Passenger Train Service

SONOMA (KCBS) — A grassroots group wants to repeal the primary source of funding for the proposed Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit also known as the SMART Line.

SMART line is funded primarily by a quarter-cent sales tax passed by voters in 2008, but the organization called Repeal SMART is looking to put an end to the passenger rail in the North Bay. Clay Mitchell is the co-chair of the grassroots organization.

KCBS’ Melissa Culross Reports:

“The project that they presented, which this tax funds, was just under a 70-mile project connecting Cloverdale on the north end of Sonoma County to Larkspur on the Southern end of Marin County with a total of 14 stations,” Mitchell said.

The poor economy has prompted the SMART board to build the line in segments with the first segment stretching from Santa Rosa to San Rafael, but Mitchell said his group’s concerns about that project change has fallen on deaf ears.

Repeal SMART is now gathering signatures for a ballot initiative to repeal the sales tax.

However, SMART General Manager Farhad Mansourian isn’t worried.

“We think Marin and Sonoma residents are much smarter than in the middle of the construction to turn the clock back,” Mansourian said.

Mansourian added that a bus bridge will serve the entire proposed SMART route once the initial rail segment is complete.

There has been some wrangling over language that will or will not be included in the initiative, should it end up on the ballot next year.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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