Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) in the US has selected US-based Stacey, Witbeck and Herzog Contracting joint venture to carry out the first $103m phase of the new rail line between Santa Rosa and San Rafael.

The project involves construction of 37 miles of track; the repair, rehabilitation or replacement of 20 bridges; and the reconstruction of crossings and station platforms. It also involves construction of two stations: the Guerneville Road station, located north of the former terminus in Santa Rosa and the Atherton station in Novato, which were not part of the original plan.

SMART chairperson and Sonoma County supervisor Valerie Brown said, "The rail line allows us to extend the construction of SMART’s backbone to north Santa Rosa (Guerneville) where it will serve a large number of residents and regional shopping centre Coddingtown Mall."

Upon completion, the line will be extended 1.5 miles north to a station on Guerneville Road in north-west Santa Rosa, helping SMART boost its ridership.

Member of Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and the SMART board Shirlee Zane said the first segment is expected to serve 80% of the expected ridership of a full system. "The Guerneville station offers the highest amount of ridership, so it was important that we made it there," Zane said.

SMART had floated the bid last February and the contractors were expected to carry out the majority of engineering work as well as construction. Five proposals were closely considered from nine initial offers, and the Stacey, Witbeck and Herzog Contracting joint venture beat Shimmick Construction to win the contract.

The project is expected to be completed by 2016.

Previously, Stacy and Witbeck and Herzog have collaborated to carry out similar rail projects. For instance, in 2004 the joint venture completed a $123m reconstruction of the Lawrence Caltrain station in Sunnyvale.