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What Happened at the Board of Supervisor's Meeting This Week

Updated: 5 days ago

The March 26th Board of Supervisors Meeting had a giant (not good) surprise for Rail Trail supporters.


During a routine EIR approval for the Rail Trail segments 10 & 11, Supervisors Koenig and McPherson voted to stop progress on the incredibly important Rail Trail segments from Live Oak to Aptos. Segments 10 & 11 have already been awarded $68M in state construction grant money which is now in jeopardy because of their obstruction.


An initial motion by Supervisor Hernandez to approve all staff recommendations failed with two vote for (Cummings and Hernandez) and two votes against (McPherson and Koenig), with Supervisor Zach Friend abstaining.


Santa Cruz County Project Leader Rob Tidmore requested the Board of Supervisors to take 8 actions to move segments 10 & 11 forward, including mandatory actions in accepting the $68M ATP grant Santa Cruz County was awarded for construction of these projects. Although Supervisors Koenig and McPherson eventually allowed the EIR to be certified, they refused to support the full staff recommendations and have prevented the County from moving forward. 


Staff recommendations that did not pass:

  • 4) Approve the Coastal Rail Trail Segments 10 and 11 project in the Ultimate Trail Configuration, with the inclusion of Design Option B as an optional alignment pending direction from the California Coastal Commission;

  • 5)  Approve a Riparian Exception and Issue a Biotic Approval for the Coastal Rail Trail Segments 10 and 11 project in the Ultimate Trail Configuration, including Design Option B; based on the attached CEQA Findings, Statement of Overriding Considerations, and Riparian Exception Conditions;

  • 6)  Approve the Baseline Agreement between the County of Santa Cruz and California Department of Transportation for Coastal Rail Trail Segments 10 & 11 project in the Ultimate Trail Configuration;

  • 7)  Authorize the Deputy CAO/Director of Community Development and Infrastructure to execute the Baseline Agreement with Caltrans on behalf of the County; and

  • 8)  Direct the Deputy CAO/Director of Community Development and Infrastructure to request that the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) fully fund the Coastal Rail Trail Segments 10 and 11 project.


In their staff report, County staff has already agreed to continue to work to apply for more grants, do value engineering to bring project costs down, and work with Roaring Camp to bring construction costs down. As a last resort, the County has requested that construction costs be funded with the approved 2016 Rail Trail sales tax funding which was passed originally to fund trail construction and a portion of which is currently held for trail maintenance, while finding another source of funding for maintenance. It's interesting to note that if we don't construct the trail, we definitely won't need the 68M currently being held aside for maintenance.


Friends of the Rail & Trail fully supports the original staff recommendation and recommends Supervisors Koenig and McPherson get back in touch with their voters who support the rail trail being built ASAP.


These are vital Trail projects


Segments 10 & 11 are key pieces of the Rail Trail, going from 17th Avenue in Live Oak to State Park Drive in Aptos. They will give mid-County our first ever fully protected bike path, and transform access to safe bicycle and pedestrian routes across the County. 



Segments 10 & 11 of the Coastal Rail Trail go from 17th avenue to State Park Drive


Because of McPherson and Koenig voting against the project, we are now in a situation where this transformative project will not move forward and  it is at risk of losing the $68M construction grant from the state.


Bruce McPherson and Manu Koenig are acting in direct opposition to County voters who have indicated time and time again that we want our tax dollars to go towards these projects, and we want them built as soon as possible.


Like every other transportation project in California right now, construction costs are coming back higher than initial estimates. This means County and RTC staff will need to work together to find additional grant funding for construction. In the staff report, the County outlined several measures they are already taking in order to ensure the additional construction costs can be funded. We’ve reviewed this plan and agree there are plenty of additional grants available to help cover the remaining construction costs. 


This continued opposition to one of the most popular projects in Santa Cruz County is unacceptable. It’s time we remind Koenig and McPherson that they work for the people. 


Now is the time to write, call and make noise. Consider calling the Board of Supervisors direct line today: (831) 454-2200



Watch the votes as they played-out here:



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