Updated: May 10
On June 7 2022, the Santa Cruz County electorate came together with an outpouring of support for keeping the current plan to have both rail and trail, including implementing light rail transit on the Santa Cruz Branch Line. The landslide opposing Measure D made it clear that the Rail & Trail project isn’t controversial. Rather, it is an extraordinarily popular unifying vision for a transportation corridor that includes both rail and trail: a transportation corridor that will provide a better quality of life for all of the county residents and visitors. Here are the most recent unofficial election results broken down by Supervisorial District.
The People Have Spoken and They Want Rail & Trail
The voters in every district have sent a clear message to all of our elected and appointed officials that Santa Cruz County wants to continue with the Rail & Trail vision that has guided years of studies, design, and public process.
Our strength is grounded in our ability to work together. We have come together in an amazing coalition across Santa Cruz County that will continue to advocate for our future. No matter our differences, most of us want pretty similar things. We want to live in a thriving community that provides freedom of movement and opportunity for everyone to get around safely, creates safe and healthy neighborhoods, and gets everyone home on time for dinner. Together we can bring this vision to life.
What's Next for Light Rail Transit?
The dramatic results at ballot box have created a clear mandate for passenger rail. Now that our elected officials know that rail transit enjoys just as much support from the community as the Coastal Rail Trail, It’s time to move this project forward!
Many of us have written to the RTC in the past 12 months to encourage them to oppose abandonment and railbanking and to let them know that we want to move forward with both Rail & Trail. If you wrote your commissioner, did you hear back? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.
Fortunately, it’s a good time to invest in rail transportation in the USA. Counties around the country are funding rail line upgrades with Federal Rail Grants. The CRISI funds in the above example are only one source of funding that is available. We have an opportunity in front of us with the upcoming State Transportation Improvement Program/TCEP, which is a great source for our rail line because two Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line upgrade projects are already on the State's eligible project list. This summer we will be pushing to see real progress towards light rail service as well as continued progress on the trail. Stay tuned and join us as we continue our advocacy work towards these goals!
Coastal Rail Trail Progress
As the founding organization advocating for the Coastal Rail Trail, we are always delighted to see progress on our vision for a 32-mile trail spanning the length of the county. Here are the latest progress updates on segments of the trail that run through some of our most densely populated areas.
California Street to the Boardwalk
The first phase of Coastal Rail Trail Segment 7 has been open between Natural Bridges and Bay Street on the Westside of Santa Cruz since Fall of 2020. The trail is a hit with residents and visitors alike, and people of all ages can be seen walking, bicycling, and skating on the trail at all times of day. Now, we’re delighted to report that the City of Santa Cruz is beginning construction of Segment 7 Phase II this summer.
The trail will be 12-16 feet wide and go from the corner of Bay and California to the roundabout at the foot of the wharf. Like all of the Coastal Rail Trail, it is designed for walkers and bicyclists of all ages and abilities. We are excited for this alternative route to heavily trafficked Laurel Street and steep Beach Hill. This new trail running alongside the tracks behind Neary Lagoon will provide safer and easier active transportation connections between the beach area and the Westside, and will connect to downtown Santa Cruz via the Beach Street Bike Path and the San Lorenzo River Path. To see info on all the Rail Trail segments in the City of Santa Cruz click here.
17th Ave to State Park Drive
Several weeks ago I was pleased to send a letter on behalf of the Friends of the Rail & Trail officially endorsing a County grant application to fund Coastal Rail Trail Segments 10 and 11. We are optimistic that the California Active Transportation Program grant committee will approve funding for this section of the Rail Trail, a 4.5-mile stretch that will connect 17th Avenue in Live Oak to the Seacliff neighborhood in Aptos. It will also connect 10 schools, 18 parks, 13 public beaches, 2 community centers, commercial zones and some of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the county. Click here to check out the maps and plans.
Are You Interested in Helping to Lead with Friends of the Rail & Trail?
We hope you will join us to learn more about the next steps and how you can help lead the charge in Santa Cruz County. As always, it’s such an honor to be a part of this community. Thank you for bringing that extra spark to our community and helping to make Santa Cruz County such a wonderful place to be!
All the Best, Faina Segal Board Chair, Friends of the Rail & Trail