The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) district's acting executive director Farhad Mansourian today recommended increasing the cost of the rail line and pedestrian/bicycle pathway between San Rafael and Santa Rosa by $57 to $69 million and completing it one or two years behind schedule.
He also outlined $70 to $82 million in possible funding sources and savings measures to offset the increased costs.
The cost of the segment between Santa Rosa and San Rafael was initially estimated at $335 million when it was part of the originally proposed 70-mile rail line and pathway between Cloverdale and Larkspur.
The cost of building the line only between the downtowns of those cities -- the initial operating segment, or IOS -- is estimated at $395 million. Mansourian is now projecting the cost of that segment at $404 million and is forecasting $407 million will be available to build it.
His engineer's analysis of the costs and revenues of the IOS was to be completed by July 27, when the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is scheduled to approve $21 million in funding for the project, half of it from Marin and Sonoma counties' transportation authorities.
Mansourian is recommending restoring three items that previously were deleted from the San Rafael-Santa Rosa segment in April to help save $88 million.
They include restoring $4.3 million for ticket vending machines, $3.4 million for a closed circuit television system on train station platforms and $5 million to replace the Novato Creek Bridge.
He also is recommending $56 million in cost increases and revisions that include an additional $10 million for engineering, professional services and administrative staff, $11 million for an operations and maintenance facility, $26 million for a "positive train control" signaling and communications system, $4 million for systems and grade crossing work between the Marin Civic Center and downtown San Rafael and $2.8 million for signals and sound buffer medians to create "quiet zones."
Mansourian said SMART can save between $12 and $24 million by delaying the completion of the Santa Rosa-San Rafael segment one to two years to allow time to restore the deleted items.
He also estimates SMART's 3 percent sales tax growth rate assumption is too low, given the current year growth rate of 6 percent.
"It is prudent for SMART to assume an additional 1 percent growth rate over the next several years only, which remains fairly conservative. This would result in an additional $22 million in sales tax revenue during this time period," Mansourian said in his analysis.
Mansourian also said his staff has identified $20 million in "repeated duplications and estimates of project costs, overhead and contingencies."
"This resulted from many different consultants working on separate components of the same project where overlapping cost estimate components were not discovered," Mansourian said.
Addressing and pathway, Manshourian said, "Long-time project opponents have claimed a promise was broken ... this is simply not the case.
"Decision makers in every sector are being asked to downsize, phase or reduce until the economic crisis is over," Mansourian said. "SMART critics recommend that your board simply fold. In my considered view, this is not a viable option," Mansourian said.
"Phasing the project with a reduced initial scope in response to the current economic downturn is the proper course," Mansourian said.
The SMART board of directors will accept and review the report at its Aug. 17 meeting in San Rafael.
--Bay City News Service