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Train station in limbo

The light at the end of the tunnel for a second SMART train station at the east side of Petaluma appears even farther away, as SMART officials continue to run low on money, while prioritizing other aspects of the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit commuter train.

Though Petaluma was originally promised two train stations — one at the corner of Lakeville and D streets where the old train depot is located, and one at the corner of Corona Road and North McDowell Boulevard — construction of the Corona Road station has been abandoned until the public entity receives more funding. Though SMART officials, including General Manager Farhad Mansourian, said they are still committed to building a second station in Petaluma, the timeframe for such construction remains unknown.

"I have talked with Farhad (Mansourian) about the Corona Road station and he asked me to hold off on more in-depth talks until the spring of 2014, so that he can focus his attention on getting other improvements done," City Manager John Brown said last week.

Many in Petaluma have been frustrated by the lack of movement on Petaluma's second train station. While the downtown station is centrally located, its plan does not include any space for parking, since parking was supposed to be located around the Corona Road station.

Furthermore, the property originally designated for the Corona Road station is currently up for sale, after its owners were foreclosed on last year. Though the current property owners said they made several below-market offers to SMART, officials at the public organization declined to purchase the land, citing a lack of available funds.

"There still haven't been any funds for a second station identified at this point," said SMART spokesperson Carolyn Glendening. "But that doesn't mean we aren't pursuing it."

SMART recently finished the replacement of major sections of train tracks through Petaluma. Glendening said that work over the next few months will be more hidden from the public eye than past construction, since it has more to do with engineering and maintenance.

"Building the downtown station is in the next phase of our contract," said Glendening. "It's up to the contractor when station construction beings, but we would expect it to start sometime in 2015."

Supervisor David Rabbitt, Petaluma's representative on the SMART board of Directors, said that officials are constantly looking for additional funds to build the second Petaluma station.

"Ultimately, having a second station in Petaluma will increase ridership, which is SMART's main goal," said Rabbitt. "In my mind, the second station has to happen sooner, rather than later. It's just a question of finding the money."

(Contact Janelle Wetzstein at janelle.wetzstein@arguscourier.com)


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