Events, News & Blog

Open Alto Tunnel

Alto Tunnel is an old railroad tunnel that once served the North Pacific Coast Railroad.  Long abandoned, most of the rail right-of-way has been turned into multi-use pathway in Marin County.  These paths are part of Ecorings Initiative called the Sonoma Marin Adventure Trail stretching 84 miles from Sausalito on Richerdson Bay to Cazadero in the Redwoods north of the Russian River.  The segment from Sausalito to Larkspur and the segment from Corte Madera to San Anselmo are separated by the closed Alto Tunnel.  The Alto Tunnel is a high-priority link in the Sonoma Marin Adventure Trail.  We recommend that you visit the website of the Friends of the Alto Tunnel and sign up for messages on how you can support the reopening of the Alto Tunnel.  View a video and learn more about the Alto Tunnel and how the Cal Park Tunnel was reopened here.

More Sections of SMART Pathway!

Reopening of SMART Pathway Section


Ground Breaking for New SMART Pathway Section

On October 22, 2022 Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the reopening of a 1.7 mile section of the SMART Pathway from Payran St. to Southpoint Blvd. in Petaluma. The pathway was closed shortly after it was constructed in April 2022 due ironically to construction on additional lanes on the Highway 101 bridge over the pathway. The new lanes will add more cars to the traffic while the pathway is intended to encourage alternate means of travel.

SMART Board Chair and Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbit kicked off the ceremony with a short encouraging speech followed by an equally upbeat speech by SMART Board Vice-Chair Barbara Pahr who also serves on the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District which runs ferries on the San Francisco Bay. Board member Lucan also participated and Petaluma Council Member Kevin McDonnell also weighed in with a few comments. After the speaches, Mayor McDonnell together with SMART Board members Damon Conoley and David Rabbit cut the ribbon across the trail with a giant pair of scissors. The crowd of about fifty adults and children then rode and walked the wonderful new pathway.

Also celebarated was the start of construction of an additional ssegment linking Payron St to Lakeville Blvd. This segment is expected to be completed by end of fall, 2022.

How You Can Build a Green Community

By Cheryl Conklin

Are you interested in improving your community? Do you understand the importance of building sustainable neighborhoods? If so, you may consider advocating for green buildings in your city.

What Is Green Building?

Building “green” means considering environmental impacts when designing structures. It also means finding ways to reduce adverse effects while creating positive ones. Green buildings emphasize sustainability while preserving natural resources.

Green buildings can include:

  • Waste-reduction measures such as recycling and reusing materials
  • Efficient use of resources such as water and electricity
  • Non-toxic, renewable building materials
  • Healthy indoor air quality

A green building also considers its occupants’ quality of life. It pays respect to local customs and the needs of its users. It also factors in local climate and environmental situations.

According to statistics, green building uses 25% less energy and 11% less water than conventional construction methods.

Green Building Benefits

Green buildings reduce waste, use fewer resources, and lower environmental impact. They help reduce energy bills, making them less costly to operate and maintain. They are designed with user satisfaction in mind — large windows and open floor plans are appealing and maximize natural daylight. Ideally, they offer comfortable environments and have a high resale value.

Green Building Feature 1: Eco-Friendly Lighting

Energy-efficient lighting is an excellent addition to green buildings; you can install it without compromising safety. It’s vital to install lighting in areas that need to be well-lit, especially walkways, stairwells, and vestibules. Good lighting is essential in parking garages.

Pedestrians and drivers depend on the increased visibility good lighting provides. It adds a layer of safety so that people can easily see where they’re headed. It also deters criminals.

An ideal eco-friendly lighting system automatically senses and adjusts light levels to increase energy savings without squandering safety.

Green Building Feature 2: Green Materials

Building green means using natural and renewable materials when possible. Recycled content, prefabricated products, moisture-resistant materials, and low-VOC products all fit the description.

It’s ideal to buy materials locally to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation.

Green Building Feature 3: Water Reduction

Green buildings focus on the need to reduce water consumption. This feature is a vital consideration in drought-prone areas.

Water-reducing features include:

Artificial groundwater recharge is another green-building feature that’s becoming more significant. It involves redirecting water to replenish groundwater levels by:

  • Using sprinkler systems or irrigation furrows
  • Injecting water into ground subsurface
  • Creating ponds, infiltration surfaces, or canals

How To Influence Sustainability in Your Community

Creating a green community is a task that requires all hands on deck. You may be wondering how you and your cohorts can make an impact. The answer lies in getting local businesses and lawmakers on board.

  1. Define your outcome: Clarify your message — building a green community — in a brief statement. Next, create a well-defined, measurable goal.
  2. Target your database: Find the people in your area who can help you reach a broader audience and support your message. You can boost your success by pointing out how they can benefit.
  3. Execute your plan: Once you have assembled a team, you can begin an email campaign, circulate petitions, raise funds, lobby politicians, and carry out other aspects of your campaign.
  4. Refer to examples: Look to Forest Unlimited for guidance from other successful campaigns if you’re unsure where to begin.

Advocating for green building can be challenging, but it is possible. Creating changes in your community, such as energy-efficient lighting, is real progress. It’s also very satisfying for the people who work so hard to make an impact.