Construction Updates

This page will be updated periodically with information about elements of SMART construction activities that may affect local roadways or neighborhoods. Items are added as they are scheduled by SMART’s contractors and are subject to change. Please visit this page frequently.

To report a construction related problem or to ask a question,
please call our Project Hotline: 855-312-7444

As SMART prepares for passenger rail service in your area, SMART contractor Stacy Witbeck/Herzog (SWH) will be grinding the top of rail on the tracks to remove irregularities.

The rail grinder will operate from railroad crossing to railroad crossing and pass through 4 to 5 times before moving to the next segment.This means that over the next month the grinder will be experienced in one segment for 30 minutes to an hour at a time as it passes 4 to 5 times between railroad crossings.

Rail grinding will be performed on all 43 miles of the SMART rail corridor, starting in San Rafael, then moving to Airport Blvd. and working southward to Novato from:

November 2nd—December 11, 2015
Work days/hours: Monday – Saturday, 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
(Schedules are subject to weather and permitting conditions)

Estimated completion dates are as follows:

  • Santa Rosa by Wednesday, November, 11, 2015
  • Rohnert Park/Cotati by Friday, November, 13, 2015
  • Penngrove/Petaluma by Monday, November, 16, 2015
  • Novato by Thursday, November, 19, 2015

*Dates are estimates work may continue through Friday, December 11, 2015*

Grinding will be performed by an 80 foot three car train that will move along the railroad tracks at 3-5 mph. Expect noise levels of 85 dB (similar to the sound of a city bus from 50 feet away) and sparks. Flaggers will be utilized at grade crossings. There will be a water tank crew following the grinder.


Loram Rail Grinder on SMART District Tracks near Fulton, CA


Train movements for the purpose of testing on board systems and operational requirements. This work will continue until the start of service in late 2016.

  • Ongoing | Airport Blvd, Santa Rosa to East Cotati Ave., Cotati: Train movement for signal and system testing. Keep alert for flaggers and/or activated signals at railroad crossings with minor traffic delays.

Please note: this is an active railroad. Freight operates from near Hwy 37 in Novato and northward as far as Windsor. Additionally, SMART trains or maintenance equipment may run from Airport Boulevard in Santa Rosa to Downtown San Rafael at any time.
Always Expect a Train.

Station construction is underway. Crews will start in Downtown San Rafael and work their way northward.

  • 7 AM – 7 PM Tuesday, November 17 & 24, 2015 – Downtown San Rafael – Concrete trucks delivering materials for concrete top slab pour


Safety is SMART’s highest priority and we are working hard to maximize safety during our construction phase. Please do your part by following detour instructions and staying clear of all construction equipment and activities.

The only safe and legal place to cross the tracks is at designated railroad crossings.  Download our Rail Construction Safety Flyer and share these important safety tips with your entire family!

SMART construction is funded by Measure Q, passed by SMART District voters in 2008, as well as grants from these funding partners:

Note:  Dates and times are current estimates and are subject to change as schedules are subject to weather and permitting conditions.  In general, work will occur in specific sections for a few days at a time, with more extended work periods at bridges.  General construction hours are between 7am and 7pm.  This page is updated weekly.

As part of the ongoing construction project to improve the tracks in preparation for passenger rail service, pre-construction information meetings have been held in a variety of locations along the project corridor in advance of construction
.  Currently, there are no meetings scheduled. Please stay tuned for future meeting announcements.

Clearing of brush, trees and vegetation to comply with federally-required safety clearances for train operations.

Removal of old track, ties and ballast; installation of new steel rail, concrete ties, ballast and track switches, rebuilding from the sub-grade up.

  • Oct 13, 2014 – End of Sept 2015 | 3rd St. to south of Civic Center Dr. , San Rafael: Track reconstruction. PLEASE NOTE: Ballast will be stockpiled until track construction is complete
  • Mid March to Mid Sept, 2015 | Las Gallinas/Walter Place Pedestrian Crossing to Merrydale Road, San Rafael: Track removal, grading, vegetation clearing, tree removal, & track reconstruction.

Replacement of local road crossings at the track with concrete panels for improved passage by the walking, driving and biking public. 

  • Aug – Oct, 2015 | Intersection Improvements at and between East Washington Ave and East D St, Petaluma: Expect traffic delays, narrowed lanes, closed turning lanes, and modified turning movements in the area during construction. Electronic message boards will be posted in advance of lane closures or traffic delays. If possible, avoid the area and take alternative routes during this time. There will be pedestrian access during construction. Work hours are 7am – 7pm.
    Approximate Schedule
    AugustEast D St Intersection and Hopper Lane
    SeptemberEast D St to East Washington Ave
    OctoberEast Washington Intersection
  • Roadway medians will be installed/repaired to make railroad crossings “quiet zone ready” at the following locations:
      • Penngrove | Main Street/Woodward Ave

Bicycle/pedestrian Pathway construction, which links segments constructed by SMART with existing segments and other partner projects to create the SMART Pathway System.

Improvement of existing railroad tunnel structures.

Improvement or replacement of existing railroad bridge structures.

  • Dec 29, 2014  - Oct, 2015 | Haystack Bridge, Petaluma: Grading around piers and abutments, concrete work and foundations, erect bridge, test bridge systems, cut-over to new bridge, removal of old bridge, and track construction.

Installation of ductbank, conduit, fiber optic and other in-ground elements related to the communications and train control systems, within the SMART right-of-way. In addition, this includes the Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF).

  • Oct 10 – Mid Sept, 2016 | Mira Monte Marina to Downtown San Rafael: Ductbank installation for fiber optic cable and communications systems – within SMART right-of-way.
  • Nov, 2014 – Oct 2015 | Operations and Maintenance Facility site, Airport Blvd., Santa Rosa: Utilities, site work, paving, track work, erect building, mechanical/electrical installation, landscape, fence, painting, placing of modulars