Downtown SMART Station

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Photo of  downtown station site plans and depot

Current Status: At the May 23, 2017 City Council meeting, Staff will present Council with alternative funding options for Phase II of the Downtown Novato SMART Station project.


At the May 9, 2017 City Council meeting, Staff recommended Council adopt a resolution for a grant funding exchange, allocation of $1,305,000 of additional city funds, and to adopt a standard resolution of support in order to fully fund the Downtown Novato SMART Station Phase II project. Following a split vote by Council, Staff was directed to return with alternative funding options.

Project Overview

Downtown SMART Station


Project design and construction for a fully operational* Downtown SMART Station. The project will be completed in three phases, namely:

  • Phase 1: Rails, switches, ramps and platform structure.
  • Phase 2: Platform finishes, electrical, and system control technology.
  • Phase 3: Depot Lot site improvements (including Historic Building Improvements) and landscaping per a future public engagement process to determine project design elements.

The Downtown Station will be operational after completion of Phase 2. The station will be the third station in Novato, located between the Atherton Station to the north and the Hamilton Station to the south.

* "Fully operational" refers to an operational train stop where passengers can board and on and off the train. Per SMART, it has yet to be determined how often a train will stop at this station. SMART will begin service in mid-2017, and will determine the Novato Downtown Station schedule based on ridership demand.


The Downtown Station will be located at the historic Depot, along Railroad Avenue at the easternmost end of Grant Avenue, near Whole Foods Market.

View project on an interactive map >>


The Downtown Station meets the City’s Strategic Goal for Great Places by facilitating a vibrant Downtown that enhances community spaces, restaurant options and the retail environment. The Downtown Station also meets the City’s Strategic Goal for Environmental Legacy by promoting the use and accessibility of public transportation.  


Phase 1 construction work is anticipated to be completed by March 2017. Completion dates for phase 2 and 3 are yet to be determined, pending discussion and action by the City Council.


First Phase project cost is $2.4 million. Complete Downtown Station total cost is $5 million (includes First Phase costs).

Additional Info

At their January 26, 2016 City Council meeting, Council approved an initial phase of a Downtown SMART Station.  

Background Information

At the September 15, 2015 City Council meeting, staff was requested to agendize the City Council's consideration of funding a feasibility study for a Downtown SMART Train Station adjacent to the Old Train Depot at Grant & Railroad Avenues. The proposed Downtown Novato SMART station would be a third station for Novato--the other two locations are San Marin and Hamilton.

The requested hearing occurred on October 6, 2015 where Council directed staff to expend up to $100,000 in reimbursing SMART and their consultants for a service planning and engineering feasibility study, and bring the issue back for public consideration as soon as it was complete.

SMART staff and their team of engineers (LTK Engineering Services) and contractor (Stacy and Witbeck) have completed their engineering and cost analysis and provided two options--a full station and a phased-construction option. Another option for Council is to not proceed with a downtown station. The costs described in each option are preliminary estimates prepared by SMART.

At their Jan. 12 meeting, the City Council received a staff presentation  for the following options: 

Option #1 - Full Downtown Station
The study estimates that the project design and construction costs for a fully operational* downtown station would be about $5 million--resulting is three SMART stations in Novato.

Option #2 - Phased Rail Infrastructure Project
This option includes initial construction of track work and limited site work at an approximate cost of $2.6 million. Additional station and platform work would occur in the future—at an additional cost. This option may require the platform to remain fenced for safety and security until the station becomes operational at an undetermined time in the future. The balance of the site improvements could then be designed and bid at a later time, with the balance of the platform features, rail equipment, controls and integration. The cost of the first phase is estimated at $2.6 million.

Option #3 - No Downtown Station
The other option for Council is to decide not to invest in a downtown station.

The Novato City Council wanted to explore this possibility before SMART service begins at the end of 2016.

Fiscal Considerations

The City of Novato has some one-time funds that could be used for this proposed project. The funds are currently in several funding categories, some of which are already allocated to other projects while other funds are currently unallocated. The below funding possibilities are a complete list of potential City funds available for this project, not a recommendation to use any particular funding source. The City could use one or multiple sources listed below, including a blend of one-time funds and debt financing to complete the project.

Funding Possibilities 
One-time Funding Source possibilities:  Unallocated One-Time Funds
  • Unallocated Measure F $5,500,000
  • Novato Public Finance Authority Fund $600,000

Exist. Allocated One-Time Funds

  • Measure F Risk Mitigation Reserve $3,000,000
  • Council Committed Projects/Funds $2,000,000 - $3,000,000

Potential Future Funds

  • Buck Trust Dev. Agreement $1,000,000
  • Hamilton Hospital Sale Agreement $2,000,000
  • Hamilton Cottages Sale Agreement $500,000
  • (Resolution of $5.2M Redevelopment Lawsuit in 2016?)
Debt Financing 
  • No use of reserves
  • Consider interest expense
  • Requires additional research--bring back on 1/26
Station Construction Costs
Option #1   Single Phase SMART Improvements $5,000,000 
Option #2  Phased Project
Phase 1: Rail/Platform Improvements $2,600,000
Phase 2: Platform Finish/SMART Operations $2,400,000 (current estimated cost)
Other Costs for either option

SMART Feasibility Study Costs   $50,000 (completed)
Parking/Lighting/Landscaping    $400,000

Extended Phase I Archaeological Study   $10,000 - $40,000


* "Fully operational" refers to an operational train stop where passengers can board and on and off the train. Per SMART, it has yet to be determined how often a train will stop at this station. SMART will begin service in mid-2017, and will determine the Novato Downtown Station schedule based on ridership demand.

Contact Info

Project Manager
Russ Thompson, PE, Public Works Director

Public Works Department

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