Re-open the Jennings bike-pedestrian crossing!
For more than 100 years prior to 2016, Jennings Avenue in Santa Rosa served as a major east-west route for pedestrians and bicyclists. It provided a much safer, lightly trafficked route across the train tracks, compared to Guerneville Road to the north and College Avenue to the south.
The street has been closed to automobile traffic at the SMART tracks for decades. Nevertheless, cyclists and residents of nearby neighborhoods have crossed the tracks there to reach the post office, shops, schools, medical services, and restaurants. The importance of this crossing is underlined by the fact that it is part of the Santa Rosa General Plan, the North Station Area Specific Plan and the Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan. It helps to reduce dependency on cars, improving traffic flows and the environment.
Purple arrow on map marks where Jennings Avenue crosses the train tracks.
In 2015, at the direction of the State Public Utilities Commission SMART erected a fence, to impede access across the tracks, while consideration was given to the City of Santa Rosa’s application for construction of an at-grade crossing for cyclists and pedestrians. People have since been seen climbing over the fence to cross the tracks, and holes in the fence have appeared from time to time.
SCTLC supports the City’s application, which was approved by the Commission in 2016, with findings that the proposed grade crossing is safe and in the public interest. In 2017 plans were developed by the City and by SMART staff members for construction of the crossing. The City and SMART intended that the project would be complete before the commencement of passenger service in the Fall of 2017.
However, there were various interruptions, and passenger service commenced without construction of the crossing. The onset of wildfires, litigation relating to the costs of construction, and insurance issues have delayed the project. The City of Santa Rosa recently applied for a further extension of the Public Utilities Commissions deadlines for construction of the crossing with its gates, bells, and warning lights. It is hoped that an agreement to proceed with construction will be reached before the end of February 2024.
SCTLC urges the City and SMART to promptly resolve all issues regarding the crossing, and build it before any more cyclists or pedestrians are injured on Guerneville Road or College Avenue.