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By Greg Cahill

Fasten your seatbelt. The merry-go-round that is North Bay public transit is coming back around, and elected officials hoping to grab that elusive brass ring are telling us to prepare for a November 2002 ballot measure aimed at levying a transportation sales tax to help cope with the region's worsening traffic.

Last week, at a joint meeting of the Marin and Sonoma County Boards of Supervisors the consensus was that ballot measures will pop up in both communities. Similar measures have a long history of defeat, and were quashed most recently by Marin voters in 1998 and Sonoma County voters just last year.

The difference this time around is that North Bay rail service most likely will be the prominent item on the measures.The boards have agreed to merge authority over the old Northwestern Pacific Railroad right of way--running from Willits to Larkspur--creating one regulatory entity to replace the four agencies that currently control the rail line.

Other items on the proposed ballot measures would include Highway 101 improvements, and ferry service from Port Sonoma and Gnoss Field in Novato (and possibly Petaluma).

Expect a proposed half-cent sales tax hike, requiring two-thirds approval by voters, and a bumpy ride.

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From the October 11-17, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

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