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Sonoma, Marin County Residents Get First Glimpse Of SMART Commuter Train In Cotati

COTATI (KCBS)-- Marin and Sonoma County officials and residents got their first look at the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit commuter trains that are scheduled to begin trips between the two counties starting in 2016.

The green and gray pilot SMART Diesel Multiple Unit car was delivered by train from Chicago and came to the Cotati station late Tuesday morning.

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors attended the celebration of the first SMART train's arrival. At Tuesday afternoon's Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisors David Rabbitt and Shirlee Zane, both members of SMART's board of directors, made note of the historic occasion.

"It was a joyous moment to see that train roll into the station," Zane said.

Rabbitt said the train arrived last weekend and will be undergo tests in the Novato Narrows area between Petaluma and Novato.

"It's a historic day for Sonoma and Marin counties," he said.

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, who was there in person said it was particularly important for the "economy, environment and the community."

SMART General Manager Farhad Mansourian said by the end of next year, people stuck on highway 101 in Marin and Sonoma will have another option.

"Take a train while you drink latte or you do your work on a wifi [enabled] computer and relax when you get to work because you're not already going crazy you were stuck on 101 for two hours," he said.

SMART officials have ordered seven two-car trains built by Nippon Sharyo of Arlington Heights, Illinois. Seven of the cars will have restrooms and seven will have a service bar.

The cars are 85-feet long, 10 feet wide and 14 feet tall.

Public discussion about the commuter rail began 30 years ago. Sonoma and Marin County voters approved the project in 2008. The original project was for a 70-mile rail line between Cloverdale and Larkspur, but it was downsized because of the economic recession and lack of full funding.

Plans now call for a 43-mile line between San Rafael and the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport north of Santa Rosa. There also will be bicycle and pedestrian paths along segments of the rail line.

SMART hopes to get $40 million to build the 2-mile leg of the line between San Rafael and the Larkspur Ferry. There is $20 million in President Obama's proposed federal budget and another $20 million is earmarked from a regional transportation grant.

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