Oakland, Calif. — A new commuter rail service connecting Santa Rosa to San Rafael, Calif., recently reached a major milestone and is one step closer to becoming a reality, thanks in part to the engineering expertise of STV as part of the design-build team being led by the Stacy & Witbeck/Herzog joint venture. 

Rail cars are currently being tested along a 42-mile corridor that will be the site of the future Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) rail line. STV is the lead designer on the project and provided engineering services for all rail, civil, and structural improvements for the project’s initial operating segment, currently being built primarily by the joint venture of Stacy & Witbeck/Herzog. The project entails reconstruction of track along the Northwestern Pacific (NWP) freight railroad corridor and requires repair, rehabilitation, or full replacement of 25 bridges, upgrades to more than 40 grade crossings, addition of several passing sidings and installation of eight new passenger platforms.

The first phase of the $360 million SMART program is scheduled to be completed and begin operation in late 2016 under a design-build delivery contract. When finished, SMART’s fleet of diesel multiple-unit vehicles is expected to operate along the North Bay area’s US 101 corridor and provide a more fuel-efficient transit alternative.

“Our design activities were set to meet a very aggressive construction schedule and we delivered,” said STV vice president and senior engineer Andrew Sokol, who led the design of the SMART project. “We issued the first design package only three months after receiving notice to proceed and the remaining design work was completed well in advance of scheduled construction.”

An innovative design of the SMART project is the use of special “gauntlet tracks” that overlap with the main line to give wider freight trains the necessary clearance to pass through passenger platform areas. The project team found a creative solution for the additional tracks along a sweeping segment of curved track where the historic Santa Rosa Station is situated and worked directly with a special trackwork manufacturer to devise custom curved-geometry gauntlet switches allowing SMART to retain the existing station layout.

STV also supported SMART in developing its own standard bridge drawings as part of the design process and assisted in making sure work complied with the design drawings during pile driving and other work operations.