Dear Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit Board of Directors and Santa Rosa City Council Members:
We, the undersigned, enthusiastically support efforts to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists crossing the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit right-of-way at Jennings Avenue in Santa Rosa.
We understand that the City of Santa Rosa is prepared to pay the full cost of construction for the Jennings Crossing and that SMART will be the agency constructing the project. We urge SMART and the City to take the steps necessary to begin construction of the at-grade crossing at Jennings Avenue as soon as possible.
An at-grade crossing at Jennings Avenue will improve public safety and provide a convenient way for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the SMART tracks. Without a bicycle/pedestrian crossing at Jennings Avenue, residents and students are required to walk ½ mile out of their way when trying to reach a destination on the opposite side of the tracks, including elementary age students travelling to/from school. This situation presents a major deterrent to walking and biking for local trips. The people who stand to benefit most from the at-grade crossing include children walking to Helen Lehman Elementary School, as well as people walking to access SMART, work, shopping and the transit hub located at Coddingtown Mall. It would also benefit students traveling to a number of other school sites in the vicinity, including Piner High School, Comstock Middle School, and Cesar Chavez Elementary School.
Additionally, although there is currently a fence in place at Jennings Avenue to discourage pedestrians from crossing the SMART tracks at this location, pedestrians are known to regularly jump over the fence. The fence has also been unlawfully cut to allow for easy pedestrian access to the tracks. This very unsafe situation would be eliminated with the construction of the at-grade safety crossing.
It has now been almost two years since the California Public Utilities Commission formally approved the Jennings Avenue Crossing in September of 2016. That approval is scheduled to expire if the crossing is not constructed soon. We urge SMART and the City to work together toward expediting construction of this important community asset for its many safety and mobility benefits.