SMART train step closer to approval

A quarter-cent sales tax that would help fund the proposed Sonoma-Marin train is headed for approval.

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With 98 percent of the vote counted in Sonoma County and all the precincts in Marin County counted, 69 percent of the voters have cast their ballots in favor of Measure Q.

A Novato resident who was leading the fight against the tax has conceded defeat.

The measure would help pay for a 70-mile line that would run from Cloverdale to Larkspur. Click here for the latest local, state and national results

Marin County voters did not approve it with only 62.6 percent but Sonoma County voters were giving it the nod with 73 percent approval.

The measure failed by 1.4 percent in 2006. It also passed handily in Sonoma County but failed in Marin County the last time it was on the ballot.

The measure is proposed by Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, or SMART. The train will run 70 miles along the existing Northwestern Pacific Railroad line. A bike and pedestrian path will run parallel to the route.

Proponents say the train will take 1.5 million vehicles a year off the U.S. Highway 101 corridor, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 124,000 pounds every weekday and reduce personal carbon emissions by 70 percent.

Opponents have called the proposal a "train to nowhere," questioning whether it will attract enough daily riders to make it worth the expense.

The estimated capital cost of the train and 14 stations is $450 million and the adjacent bike and pedestrian path is $90 million in 2008 figures.

The tax will raise almost $900 million over 20 years.

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