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Letters: SMART train ... for & against

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  • 10/28 Marin IJ
    Published Saturday, October 28, 2006, by the Marin Independent Journal Letters to the Editor SMART DEBATE MCL s mistake The Marin Conservation League board s
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2006
      Published Saturday, October 28, 2006, by the Marin Independent Journal

      Letters to the Editor


      MCL's mistake

      The Marin Conservation League board's position against the Sonoma
      Marin Area Rail Transit train would condemn Sonoma County to
      automobile-dependent sprawl to assimilate the population increase in
      the next 20 years. I couldn't believe the environmental community of
      Marin could be so out of touch.

      Environmentalists in Sonoma County see rail transit and its stations
      directing growth into our cities now protected by voter-controlled
      urban growth boundaries.

      What a relief to see Huey Johnson's Marin Voice (IJ, Oct. 12)
      listing the "who's who" of Marin's environmental leadership who
      endorse Measure R, the SMART sales tax on the ballot. And now we
      know that both Sierra Clubs endorse environment-friendly SMART.
      The bicycle coalitions of both counties, Greenbelt Alliance and
      Sonoma County Conservation Action all are on the list.

      Representing organizations with thousands of members, the
      environmental movement recognizes the positive impact of having

      Does the negative position of the MCL board truly represent the
      members of this venerated institution?

      Bill Kortum

      'Not a great train of Europe'

      SMART is not a great train of Europe. Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit
      says its trains are safe. But the train would cross more than 100
      streets, creating hazards for cars and pedestrians.

      SMART says its trains are clean. But they are 1950s-style diesel
      trains, which would spew diesel fumes in residential areas and near
      school and parks, exposing people to particles and pollutants that
      can cause cancer and other respiratory illness.

      They say the trains are quiet. But the trains would sound their
      horns before each of more than 100 street crossings. Starting at
      5 a.m., trains would wake people from their sleep. Freight trains
      could also use this route, subjecting people to noise at night.

      They say the system will cost less than other systems because a
      track exists. But the bridges, tunnels, crossings and tracks will
      need to be rebuilt, requiring a huge investment.

      There are many better ways to reduce congestion: employer incentives
      to car-and vanpool, flex time, staggered work hours and telecommuting
      and express service on buses with the same amenities proposed for
      the train. The completion of high-occupancy vehicle lanes through
      San Rafael and Sonoma will reduce bus travel times. Buses can pick
      people up near their homes and drop them off near work. Routes can
      be changed as land uses change. Portions of the rail right of way
      could be used to bypass freeway traffic and could be used by
      emergency vehicles in a disaster.

      Vote "no" on the train. Let's start working to develop
      transportation measures that will reduce congestion.

      Peter Palmer
      San Rafael

      This commuter wants a train

      As a Petaluma resident who has worked in and commuted to San Rafael
      for the past 17 years, I feel experienced enough to address Sonoma
      Marin Area Rain Transit.

      We need the train. My husband and I promise to ride it. That
      increases the arbitrary number of people expected to ride the train
      from 230 to 232. (We don't recall anyone asking us for a train
      poll.) We leave our home at 6:50 a.m. and we're lucky if we arrive
      at our offices in Terra Linda by 8:05. I wonder how many Marin
      residents south of Ignacio have sat on Highway 101 between 7 and 9
      a.m. If they did for one week, they would better understand the need
      for getting off the highway and onto a train.

      The HOV lane has become a joke -- we ride in it for about 200 yards
      before it comes to a halt and crawls along with the rest of the
      "flow" -- often carpoolers are passed by single drivers in the
      regular lanes. Getting Sonoma County residents out of cars and onto
      the train will relieve traffic congestion. How is that not obvious
      to everyone? Much of the Marin workforce -- nurses, teachers,
      programmers, retailers, waiters, doctors, firefighters and police
      officers -- live in Sonoma County.

      A true partnership with Marin and Sonoma, rather than a division by
      county line, is the answer to the increasing transportation problem.
      Let's get our heads out of the sand and get started on this now. In
      10 years both the price and congestion will dramatically multiply.
      We need SMART. Vote "yes" on Measure R.

      Julie Wilder
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