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TRAIL FUNDED! $103M Awarded for Rail Trail Construction

Updated: May 10, 2023

We’re so excited to announce that the latest Coastal Rail Trail grant applications have been a huge success.

Both the City of Santa Cruz and the County of Santa Cruz recently submitted Rail Trail grant applications to the California Transportation Commission (CTC) and today both were awarded! The CTC granted $103.3 million to fund new construction on the Coastal Rail Trail. These new funds will be used to extend the Rail Trail from the Boardwalk to State Park Drive.

The 6.5 miles of newly-funded trail fall into four segments, Segments 8 and 9 in the City of Santa Cruz and Segments 10 and 11 in mid-county. This will be a huge improvement for active transportation in Santa Cruz County.

City of Santa Cruz Trail Segments

Segment 8 goes from the Santa Cruz Wharf past the Boardwalk and across the San Lorenzo River. Funding for this segment will improve upon the bike infrastructure that is already present along Beach Street.

Segment 9 goes from the San Lorenzo River to 17th Avenue. It passes through the Seabright neighborhood, crosses the Yacht Harbor with a new bike and pedestrian bridge bypassing the Murray Street bridge, and continues along the rail corridor behind Twin Lakes State Beach and Simpkin Swim Center, emerging at the corner of the Simpkin Swim Center driveway and 17th Avenue.

This exciting segment will create a brand new direct route between Santa Cruz and Live Oak for bikes and pedestrians. It will be dramatically shorter and safer than the existing on-street infrastructure. The trail will be about 1.6 miles, in comparison with the 2 miles on-street route. Even better, it will safely bypass the Murray Street auto bridge and the narrow, steep section of road around the ocean side of Twin Lakes State Beach, which has minimal bike lanes and no sidewalk. We’re so excited to see Segment 9 get funded!

Planned Segment 9 connection to Twin Lakes park and the back of Simpkin Swim Center.
Planned Segment 9 connection to Twin Lakes park and the back of Simpkin Swim Center.

Santa Cruz County and Capitola Trail Segments

Segment 10 stretches from 17th Avenue to Jade Street Park in Capitola. Starting at Simpkin Swim Center, the trail crosses Rodeo Creek Gulch on a new bike and pedestrian bridge, crosses 38th Avenue just a few blocks from the planned new mixed-use residential and retail development at the Capitola Mall and continues to Jade Street Park. It will give residents and visitors to densely-populated Live Oak a brand new safe and protected way to get around the neighborhood and to get to and from Santa Cruz.

Segment 11 stretches from Jade Street Park in Capitola all the way to State Park Drive in Aptos. This grant funds all of Segment 11 except for the Capitola Trestle village overcrossing. The newly-funded trail picks back up on the other side of the Capitola Trestle and goes to Park Avenue, then New Brighton State Beach, continuing all the way to State Park Drive in Aptos. Planning for a Capitola Village bike and pedestrian overcrossing bridge is included in the engineering study for Passenger Rail which was just approved on December 1st.

Grant Awards Show Rail With Trail is a Winning Plan

With these awards, the Rail Trail continues to show tremendous success as a competitive project for grant funding. Before these grants, 7.8 miles of Rail Trail were already either funded or built. The new grants mean we now have 14.3 miles either funded or built. This is almost half of the full 32 miles of Rail Trail. According to the RTC, we can expect all of these funded trail segments to be completed by 2025. Once they are completed, more than 125,000 residents will have access to a safe, level, car-free path connecting Aptos, Capitola, and Santa Cruz. There are also more than 40 schools and 80 parks within 1 mile of the Rail Trail along these segments.

The CTC’s decision to approve these grant applications and fund the construction of the Rail Trail alongside the existing railroad tracks confirms that Rail With Trail can be built and is being built in Santa Cruz County. Our congratulations and our tremendous gratitude go out to the staff teams at the City of Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission, and at Santa Cruz County who were responsible for putting together these successful grant applications!


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