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Smart Train – Golden Gate Bridge: History Does Repeat Itself



Tom Engdahl - May 2020


I've been thinking about our community over the past few weeks. This morning I came across an article regarding the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit ('SMART') commuter train receiving funding to extend the train to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to enter a discussion with others on social media about the Novato Downtown train station, and the newly completed downtown bus station. This got me thinking about history and wondering what our beautiful City of Novato and the amazingly successful County of Marin would be like if the Golden Gate Bridge had never been built.

In the early 1900s, as the design and plans for the Bridge were being developed, a very vocal group opposed to building the Bridge formed a Taxpayers Committee Against Proposed Golden Gate Bonds to fight the passage of the Bond measure required to build the Golden Gate Bridge. (Interestingly, its membership included City Engineer Michael O'Shaughnessy, who, in 1917, had asked Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss to study the feasibility of building a bridge over the Golden Gate). The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco was urging defeat of the Bond measure, as were the Pacific American Steamship Association and the Ship Owners Association of the Pacific Coast, who charged that the Bridge would be a hazard to navigation and would handicap the shipping industry. "...The bridge clearance would prevent the world's great ships from entering San Francisco harbor..." they claimed. Yet, the General Steamship Corporation said ferries running across shipping lanes were a serious navigational menace; and Dollar Steamship Lines, Inc. felt that the "...clearances are quite satisfactory..."


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