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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