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February '08 SMART re-vote unlikely due to freight study request

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  • 6/23 Marin IJ
    Published Saturday, June 23, 2007, by the Marin Independent Journal All about Marin By Brad Breithaupt A push by SMART backers to put a train tax back on the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 25, 2007
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      Published Saturday, June 23, 2007, by the Marin Independent Journal

      All about Marin

      By Brad Breithaupt

      A push by SMART backers to put a train tax back on the ballot in
      February, along with California's presidential primary, rather than
      waiting until November 2008, may be doomed.

      The promise of that political move is dimming, thanks to a letter
      the city of Novato fired off asking for a study looking into the
      potential problems and benefits of freight trains rolling through
      town.

      The cow standing on the SMART's tracks is the surprising expansion
      of freight plans.

      The North Coast Rail Authority once estimated it would be running
      three trains per week on the Willits to Napa route, which cuts
      through Novato. That number has grown to a potential of two trains
      per day -- or more, and officials are furious.

      Novato City Hall is up in arms. City officials are worried that
      freight trains, possibly as many as 60 cars in length, could be an
      eyesore and cause noise and traffic problems, particularly if freight
      has to roll at night to stay out of the way of SMART's trains.

      The study Novato is seeking could take enough time to blow a February
      vote off SMART's strategy.

      Marin Supervisor Charles McGlashan, SMART's vice chairman, called
      the chance of a February election "a remote possibility."

      "I would be very skeptical. We have way too much work to do."

      He wants SMART to publish "white papers" addressing a variety of
      issues that opponents used to narrowly defeat the 2006 train tax
      measure.

      Drafting those "white papers" is on the to-do lists of SMART's
      $120,000-per-year community outreach consultants and its new
      $75,000-plus per year public affairs director.
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