Next Step for Jennings Avenue Crossing

Before the SMART train began operation, 100 cyclists and pedestrians crossed the tracks at Jennings Avenue in Santa Rosa daily to get to school, shopping, work, and the bus stop. Now there is a fence, and people must take a half-mile detour on either Steele Lane or College Avenue – two of the city’s most dangerous streets. In 2016, the California Public Utilities Commission approved the city’s plan to build an at-grade crossing and restore bicycle and pedestrian access at this location. At that time, SMART supported the crossing.

A year later, SMART changed its position and the two entities have been in negotiations ever since, with the CPUC permit extended twice. It has again expired and the city has applied for a renewal.

Residents of the adjoining neighborhoods have continually expressed overwhelming support for the crossing, and SCBC has supported it since the beginning. The CPUC has basically told the two parties to come back with a plan for getting the crossing built.

In September, SMART gave the city a draft agreement, which puts the bulk of liability on the city. Last night, the City Council voted on a counter offer, which distributes the liability more equitably. Read SCBC’s comments in our letter to the Council.

The ball is now in SMART’s court. Their next Board meeting is April 17, 2024 at 1:30 pm. Here are two ways to let them know what you think:

  1. Attend the meeting in person (5401 Old Redwood Highway, Petaluma) or on Zoom and make a public comment.
  2. Email the Board by 5 pm April 16th.  CC General Manager Eddy Cumins and BCC
  3. Insert “Agenda Item 9” in the subject field

Our letter to SMART

Some talking points:

  • Urge SMART to accept the reasonable alternative agreement the City is proposing
  • An at-grade crossing of the SMART tracks at Jennings Avenue is essential to Santa Rosa’s active transportation plan
  • The CPUC has repeated ruled that the crossing is safe and should be built
  • Nationwide data shows that pedestrian rail crossings have far fewer collisions than vehicle crossings
  • More people have been killed by vehicles on Steele Lane and College Avenue than by the SMART train
  • The community has repeatedly expressed their overwhelming support of this crossing, WHICH SMART SUPPORTED ORIGINALLY
  • SMART needs community support for any tax extension measure, so they should not be obstructing something the community desperately wants

Feel free to personalize with your own stories and experiences.

For more background information: