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SMART's acting director declares rail project 'sound and on track'

A proposed commuter-rail line that would connect California’s Marin and Sonoma counties is “alive and well,” Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) acting Executive Director Farhad Mansourian declared yesterday.

Mansourian, the Marin County Public Works director on loan to SMART until its board finds a permanent general manager, has been assessing “a variety of project assumptions, including construction costs and the financial picture” for the agency, he said in a prepared statement.

“Prior attempts to trim $88 million to balance the SMART budget included some cuts that would produce short-term gain and long-term pain,” said Mansourian. “Therefore, I have examined options that would allow the SMART board to reconsider some of these cuts, by exploring new revenue sources that do not involve asking the voters for more money.”

So far, 30 percent of the project’s design has been completed, he said, adding that he plans to “bring full disclosure of the status of the project and its financing to a public meeting of the SMART board in August.”

SMART was created in 2003 to build a 70-mile commuter-rail line between the two counties. In 2008, the counties’ voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax to fund the service. Plans call for the system’s first leg between Santa Rosa and San Rafael to open in 2014.

The board is in the process of interviewing candidates for the general manager post, which has been vacant since Executive Director Lillian Hames resigned in January.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/7/2011