The City of Santa Cruz rail trail project will be a paved, 12 to 16-foot wide multi-use path and will serve commuters, neighbors, visitors – people of all ages and abilities. It will be built in two phases: 1) from Natural Bridges Drive to Bay/California and 2) from Bay/California to Pacific Avenue near the wharf. Construction of the Phase 1 portion is estimated to start in the Fall/Winter of 2019 and last approximately 6-8 months. Construction of Phase 2 is estimated to start in the Fall of 2020 and last 9-12 months.
Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line
The 32-mile Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line is a continuous transportation corridor offering tremendous potential for new mobility options for residents and visitors alike. The rail line is designated as active and spans the county from Davenport to Watsonville, running parallel to the Highway 1 corridor and the coast, and connecting into state and other regional rail lines in Pajaro. This important transportation corridor is within one mile of more than 90 parks, 40 schools and over half of the county’s population (per census blocks). Construction of the rail line from Santa Cruz to Watsonville was completed in 1876. In October 2012, the RTC took ownership of the line using voter-approved rail system expansion funding (California Proposition 116), bringing this transportation resource into public ownership to increase transportation options.
Rail Transit Service Study
Could passenger rail transit service work in Santa Cruz County? The Rail Transit Study evaluates the feasibility of adding public transportation service on the rail line between Santa Cruz and Watsonville. The study includes: ridership projections, capital and operating cost estimates, varying service scenarios and technologies; and information on integration with other rail corridor uses and other transportation services.
Potential Transportation Uses of the Rail Corridor
The rail corridor was purchased using $11 million from the voter-approved Proposition 116 (Clean Air and Transportation Improvement Act of 1990 — California Public Utilities Code Section 99600 et seq.) which stipulates that the rail line be used for “rail projects within Santa Cruz County which facilitate recreational, commuter, intercity and intercounty travel. Potential uses include the following:
- Increased freight rail service
- Seasonal or recreational passenger rail service (Santa Cruz, Big Trees and Pacific Railway)
- Passenger rail transit
- Other transit
- Bicycle & Pedestrian path in conjunction with rail and/or transit services
Coastal Rail Trail
Planning for the Coastal Rail Trail and its guiding Master Plan was conducted over a multi-year process with much public and stakeholder input. The Master Plan was adopted in public meetings by the RTC and all coastal jurisdictions through which the trail will traverse. The Coastal Rail Trail will act as the spine of a broader Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network which is a 50-mile bicycle and pedestrian pathway along the coast of Santa Cruz County, from the San Mateo County line in the north to the Monterey County line at Pajaro. With the intent to maximize transportation options into the future, the adopted rail-with-trail project (also referred to as the “rail trail” by the Santa Cruz County community) was designed to coexist with existing and potential future transportation uses which could include train or transit services.. This configuration has proven to be successful in many other rail-with-trail projects across the nation and provides safety features for both train operations as well as bicycle and pedestrian active transportation options.
Coastal Rail Trail Projects Under Way
Rail Improvement Efforts
Rail Structure Upgrades
Current Passenger Rail Operations
Visit these links for more information: https://sccrtc.org/projects/rail/, https://sccrtc.org/projects/multi-modal/monterey-bay-sanctuary-scenic-trail/city-of-santa-cruz-coastal-rail-trail-project/#:~:text=The%20City%20of%20Santa%20Cruz,Pacific%20Avenue%20near%20the%20wharf
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