County gives $6.6 million to SMART instead of bike projects

Sonoma County transit officials Monday agreed to give $6.6 million that would have gone for bicycle and pedestrian projects to the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District to buy additional cars.

With the extra cars, SMART officials said they can run passenger trains at 30-minute intervals, providing better service, and possibly even extend service to Airport Boulevard north of Santa Rosa.

"We must all be focused on pushing this train north, and this move today will help that," said Mike McGuire, a county supervisor and member of the county Transportation Authority.

In making the 10-2 vote, McGuire and other members of the Transportation Authority who approved the SMART request said they did so reluctantly because bike and pedestrian safety projects are sorely needed but SMART is more important.

"How do I explain this to people who will not let their child ride a bike to school because they don't feel it is safe?" asked Cloverdale Councilwoman Carol Russell, who also is a SMART director and who voted to shift the funds.

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