SMART (Sonoma-Marin Rail Transit)


Sonoma-Marin Rail Transit (SMART) is coming to Novato. The City of Novato is coordinating efforts with SMART as they make improvements to their facilities to allow for passenger trains. More info on SMART and construction updates.

Quiet Zone Information

Current Status

For the past few years, the City of Novato has been actively working on establishing quiet zones throughout SMART’s crossings in Novato. In mid-2016, it was discovered that the Hamilton Pedestrian Crossing next to the Hamilton SMART station could not be included in Novato’s independent quiet zone for technical, regulatory reasons.  After researching a variety of options that were not successful, the City of Novato approached the City of San Rafael to explore the possibility of creating a comprehensive quiet zone for San Rafael, Marin County and Novato.  This comprehensive quiet zone could include the Hamilton Pedestrian Crossing and two private crossings in Marin County (between Novato and San Rafael) in addition to providing Novato a more streamlined application process for quiet zones. 

The City Council of the City of San Rafael was supportive of assisting Novato in this effort, but needed confirmation that a revised quiet zone could be implemented before the start of revenue service for SMART.  On Wednesday, October 19, the SMART Board of Directors met and confirmed that the launch date for commercial service would be moved to late spring 2017.  SMART’s change of timing allows us enough time to complete the comprehensive Quiet Zone process prior to SMART’s commercial operations.

Based on this, a partnership has been created between three jurisdictions - the City of San Rafael, Marin County and the City of Novato  - to create one comprehensive quiet zone.  The City of San Rafael agreed to serve as the lead agency for applying for the comprehensive quiet zone.  The City of Novato is covering the costs for the consultant’s time to resubmit the notice process. Both San Rafael and Novato have now rescinded each agency’s prior individual Notice of Intent and as of Thursday, October 20, a new Notice of Intent to implement a comprehensive Marin quiet zone was submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration, the railroad owners/operators and other required regulatory agencies, together with private crossing owners.  The purpose of the Notice of Intent is to allow a 60 day period for railroad owners/operators, regulatory agencies, and owners of private crossings to comment.  Once the comment period is complete, the City of San Rafael will review, consider and potentially respond to any comments received on behalf of the three jurisdictions in the quiet zone.

The City Council of Novato had been considering back-up options for the Hamilton Pedestrian crossing including retaining the crossing with a local wayside horn, retaining the crossing with horn noise, and closing the crossing.  City staff had held a neighborhood meeting in August and solicited neighborhood input via an on-line survey in September/October 2016.  On October 25, the City Council heard an update on the comprehensive quiet zone and agreed that no further action is needed on the back-up options based on the active support for the comprehensive Marin quiet zone with San Rafael.

After the Notice of Intent process is completed, the next step is to file a Notice of Establishment which is issued 21 days prior to the commencement of the quiet zone.  The City of San Rafael will act as the lead agency to submit the Notice of Establishment at the proper time.  At the end of the Notice of Establishment, the quiet zone can be put in place and horn noise stopped at crossings.  Since the quiet zone can only commence after all of the required crossing safety improvements have been completed and are fully operational, the timing of the actual establishment of the quiet zones needs to take into consideration of SMART’s testing for safety and operational purposes.

SMART’s testing phase is determined by the Federal Railroad Administration and during this time, the train will still be required to sound the horn per federal law. Staff in Novato and San Rafael will be communicating with SMART and the FRA to understand when the quiet zones could be actively established, subject to completion of the testing needs of SMART.

Background Information

Notice of Intent for new Quiet Zone in Novato

On June 6, 2016, staff sent out a Notice of Intent to support the City's proposal to create a new contiguous Quiet Zone along the SMART railroad extending from the North Hamilton Parkway crossing to the Rush Creek Place crossing.  

On May 3, 2016, staff provided a Quiet Zone update to the City Council (video of presentation and PowerPoint presentation).

On Sept. 23, 2014, the City Council discussed Quiet Zones (video of meeting and associated staff report). The City supports the establishment of Quiet Zones, and is currently researching the extent of the City's liability if the zones were to be established. Staff plan to come back with more information be or before the end of March 2015.

On September 25, 2012, staff presented a SMART Construction update to the City Council

Staff presentation to City Council on Sept. 25, 2012 and the related Powerpoint presentation; SMART info on Quiet Zones; City FAQ on Quiet Zones for Novato.

Hamilton State Access Road Pedestrian Crossing Back-up Options

At their October 25 meeting, the City Council was updated that the partnership of the City of Novato, City of San Rafael, and County of Marin to apply for a comprehensive Quiet Zone is moving forward. Given that the proposed comprehensive Quiet Zone will include the State Access Road Pedestrian Crossing, no action will be taken on the back-up options at this time.

At their October 11 meeting, the City Council received neighborhood feedback via an online survey and all other feedback regarding the Hamilton State Access Road Pedestrian Crossing back-up options--which included closing the pedestrian crossing, retaining the crossing and installing Federal Railroad Administration approved "wayside horns", or retaining the crossing and allowing the horns to sound. 

More information on the Hamilton State Access Road Pedestrian Crossing Back-up options and survey.

A community meeting was held on Wednesday, August 24 at 6:30pm at the Hamilton Community Center, 503 Palm Drive.

8/24/16 Community Meeting Presentation on State Access Rd. Ped Xing 


At the June 14, 2016 Council meeting, Council directed staff to conduct a workshop to provide residents an opportunity to learn more about the proposed Quiet Zones and the impact on the Hamilton area, federal regulations on train horns, and to provide feedback on the pedestrian crossing options at the State Access Road, including: A) retain the pedestrian crossing and install "wayside horns", B) retain the pedestrian crossing and no southerly quiet zone, or C) remove the pedestrian crossing.

Video of 6/14/16 Quiet Zone Update presentation to Council
Quiet Zone Update Presentation (6/14/16) (PowerPoint document)
Quiet Zone Update Staff Report (6/14/16)

Downtown Novato SMART Station

UPDATE: Council approved an initial phase of a Downtown SMART station.

Proposed Downtown Novato SMART Station: On January 26, the City Council considered options for a proposed SMART station for Downtown Novato. Read more >>

SMART History

SMART Station/platform design

On March 10, 2015, the City Council discussed two station design options and names for the two Novato stations. See staff report

On Sept. 9, 2014, the City Council discussed the design for two proposed SMART stations, and compiled the collective feedback from the public and Council and sent a response to SMART on Sept. 15, 2014.


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