Back in 2008, voters throughout both Marin and Sonoma approved a sales tax measure that would fund a rail line project known as the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, which supporters point out will ease commutes for residents between the two counties by reviving the long-dormant (but publicly owned) railroad right of way, ultimately serving 14 stations from Cloverdale in Sonoma County to the San Francisco-bound ferry terminal in Larkspur, Marin County. Officials have pointed out that the rail project will also take more than 1.4 million car trips off Highway 101 annually and reduce greenhouse gases. But critics of the rail line are gearing up for a fight. A group known as RepealSMART has been created to try and repeal the quarter-cent sales tax funding that was passed in 2008. The group is claiming it has gathered thousands of signatures so that a measure can be put on the ballot in 2012, but there is no proof yet that signature-gathering has proven successful. Over the weekend RepealSMART held a townhall meeting to try and stir up more support for the effort. The Press Democrat reports:
“About 30 people attended the town hall meeting, bursting into laughter when Mitchell outlined the costs of the project and the six-figure salary of SMART General Manager Farhad Mansourian. ‘I’m sick of projects that cost far more than promised,’ said Ellie Jones, 59, of Windsor. ‘They should have looked at a worst-case scenario.’ Jones echoed a view shared by many in the group at Ellington Hall on Industrial Drive in Santa Rosa who said the train’s growing cost has led her to mistrust the project leadership.”
The costs and timeline of the project seem to be the major sticking points for frustrated opponents of the rail line. Supporters of the project are already planning a response to the repeal drive by launching a public relations campaign and a rally at Railroad Square’s future SMART station. More about the future project can be seen here.