SMART officials have hired a design-build contractor for the next round of construction on the new rail transit system, including 3.25 miles of bike pathway alongside the track. That announcement raised a new round of questions from bicyclists eager to have access to the 70-mile trail, and a few from cynics who say we’ll never get the pathway.

Here’s a sample of the questions and an update from SMART spokesman Matt Stevens, who reassures us that it is coming one piece at a time, just like the rail service. Healdsburg has already completed its segment, and Santa Rosa just completed one of its portions. Caltrans is busy building the 17-mile pathway between Petaluma and Novato, and SMART is on target to finish its portions by 2016, Stevens said.

Follow along on the map to see who’s building what.

Question: I thought the entire bike path was the first thing to get axed once they realized the funding wasn’t as much as predicted. Other than the tiny section in Santa Rosa, what’s the status of the rest of the bike path? Is it getting built now? Is there a timeline for when we will be able to bike from Santa Rosa to Petaluma? — Ben

Question: When will they ever finish the bike path!? this is the main reason I voted for this! now all I see is No Trespassing signs where I ride my bike along side the tracks were I used to ride. — Angry Biker

SMART bike path network. (Illustration courtesy of Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit)

Answer: The SMART Pathway is actually a pathway “system” that connects segments built by SMART with existing segments and  sections that will be constructed by other agencies or jurisdictions.  For instance, the City of Santa Rosa just completed a section between Eighth and College in Santa Rosa, and Caltrans is constructing the portion between Novato and Petaluma right now.

The new contract that SMART just awarded includes specific sections that SMART will construct now that environmental clearances have been secured, a critical step that needs to happen before any pathway construction can be scheduled.  These seven segments are also critical for access to Phase 1 stations, and in many cases link up to segments that already exist and are open today.

Separately from this contract, SMART has also secured federal funding for a section between Southwest Ave. and Golf Course Drive in Rohnert Park. That will be constructed in a separate contract.

Other segments currently in the federal environmental clearance process should be complete some time in 2014.  This process also completes many of the steps required for permitting, which helps make them construction-ready, as well as eligible for federal grants.

Still want more? Here is a link to a SMART Board PPT presentation that also addresses the bicycle/pedestrian pathway.


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  1. jezra

    It is a shame that the “answer” doesn’t include a time frame. After all, the question asks “when”.

    November 27th, 2013 8:34 am

  2. Dangerous

    Put a strict 10 mph speed limit on cyclist and ENFORCE it!! ( law enforcement, tickets) Cyclists have a tendency to think they have the right of way over walking pedestrians ( and everything else). Cyclists SLOW DOWN when walkers , especially children are present, just as you would expect a motorist to do in tight space!!

    November 27th, 2013 11:11 am

  3. Russ

    Um. Don’t really care. Just get those who come up here from other areas to bike on our roads to not be here. Why don’t we locals get to vote that they should not be allowed on roads without bike-lanes?

    It’s insane. It’s a road. With no shoulder, don’t be here.

    November 27th, 2013 11:36 am

  4. Peter

    ” Healdsburg has already completed its segment,”

    um…no. A huge piece of the bike path is non-existent between the train station and the five way intersection at Mill Street. Not a large stretch, but it leaves a huge gap in the path right in the center of town. Also, they still have no clue how they will provide bike/ped access to town from south of Memorial Bridge when they close it for repairs.

    November 27th, 2013 1:11 pm

  5. John Murphy

    Why don’t we locals get to vote that they should not be allowed on roads without bike-lanes?

    Because of the US Constitution.

    November 27th, 2013 3:25 pm

  6. Road.Warrior

    Thank you for the update Peter.

    November 27th, 2013 3:29 pm

  7. Ben

    Thanks for asking SMART, Linda. It’s disappointing that they didn’t answer my simple question of when we will be able to ride a bike from Santa Rosa to Petaluma. The PDF you linked to seems to indicate that only disconnected small sections of path will be built during Phase 1. Disappointing if true. We have plenty of “good enough for now” bike connectivity IN our towns. What we have is NO connectivity BETWEEN them! This is what SMART promised us!

    November 27th, 2013 4:10 pm

  8. Road.Warrior

    By 2016. That’s the best answer they had, although we’ll stay on top of incremental developments as permits are awarded and construction contracts approved.

    November 27th, 2013 4:56 pm

  9. John Parnell

    The SMART pathway will never be what was sold to us. Unless we pay another tax & pay for it twice, just like getting the train to Cloverdale. Do you see how they have gotten some of the cities to pay for what we thought SMART was supposed to cover? It is quite similar to Sonoma’s pothole repair money being diverted to SMART.

    Don’t get your hopes up. We have only seen the beginning of SMART’s broken promises. They needed the path only as a marketing tool to get our sales tax money. The bicycle coalitions may have been SMART’s foot soldiers in their campaign, but they are getting the short end of the SMART stick, just like the rest of us.

    December 2nd, 2013 6:00 pm

  10. It's Me

    What should be understood that is X amount of dollars in the pot, so you need to get the best bang for the bucks, you need to the train up and running first, it will carry the most amount of persons, in the shortest amount of time, then comes the bicycle paths. If you want to get things moving along, buy some bonds, or do a fund raising to help pay for the path.

    December 2nd, 2013 6:01 pm

  11. Pablo

    I dont care about the train, all I want is the freaking bike path from Petaluma to Novato!

    December 7th, 2013 3:30 pm

  12. Ben

    “you need to the train up and running first, it will carry the most amount of persons, in the shortest amount of time”

    Except the train will only run a few hours a day, likely only Monday – Friday. The bike path would be 24/7. That’s a big difference.

    January 2nd, 2014 4:20 pm

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