Friends of the Rail and Trail is excited today to be announcing the launch of Coast Connect, a new campaign to transform the County's transportation system for the future. The Coast Connect vision is committed to the principles of People, Planet, and Prosperity.
The vision starts with a modern rail service connecting the City of Watsonville to the City of Santa Cruz and points between and beyond. At each stop, synchronized bus connections provide access to various county destinations. Alongside the tracks, a wide, paved, multi-use trail runs the full 32 mile length of the rail corridor from Watsonville to Davenport. A network of trails, paths, and complete streets that serve all members of the community is connected to the corridor. Wheelchair users, skateboarders, cyclists, pedestrians and rideshares can all access the system safely and easily.
The combination of active transportation routes, rail service, and synchronized bus connections will provide our community with a modern, robust transportation system that benefits people, the planet and our shared prosperity.
A transformed transportation system will make Santa Cruz County more equitable. Convenient, reliable and accessible transportation options will allow all workers, families, students and visitors to travel freely across the county and to access opportunities for work, education, and recreation without needing a car.
A transformed transportation system will help fight climate change by giving us attractive, convenient alternatives to car travel that will help our community reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut air pollution, and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
A transformed transportation system will give both employees and customers improved access to local businesses, make Santa Cruz County accessible to rail and bicycle tourists through the rail connection at Watsonville/Pajaro junction and the coastal trail, and enable residents to forego car expenses.
Coast Connect is about how quality transportation can create a better, more connected future for the people of Santa Cruz County. We believe implementing the Coast Connect vision can transform our county for the benefit of generations to come.
We’re excited to share this launch with you today. With the Coast Connect vision, we hope to inspire everyone to see how we can transform transportation together and build a better future for our County. To join us in our advocacy efforts, please visit us at CoastConnect.org and add your name today.
Credit the City of Santa Cruz, Public Works Dept. Nathan Nguyen, P.E.
Granite Rock is continuing to make good progress on the Westside Rail Trail as Segment 7 work continues over the summer. At Bay Street they have started installing the permanent fence posts between the rail and the trail. The fence posts are weathered steel to match the railroad theme and will have smooth wire cable between them to maintain sight lines and provide an open-space feel on the trail.
Granite Rock has started demolition work at the New Leaf parking lot and saved three trees to replant along Fair Avenue. They have also restarted excavation at Natural Bridges Drive to prepare for the Arroyo Seco channel bridge scheduled to arrive at the end of June. Segment 7 is on track and on schedule to be completed this fall.
A generous donor has pledged to match every dollar raised for our work, up to $40,000. FORT supporters have already contributed $32,000. We need your help to raise another $8,000 by June 1st to complete the match and reach our goal. Your gift of any size will fund our campaign to encourage the RTC to make the right choice -- rail transit on the rail corridor. Invest in the future here.
To give off-line:
Friends of the Rail & Trail
Post Office Box 1652
Capitola, CA 95010
Thank you for your support
Construction on the Coastal Rail Trail is continuing during this challenging shelter-in-place environment. You can take a “social distancing” walk to see the progress on Westside Rail Trail, Segment 7, between Dufour Street and Almar Avenue.
New Trail Between Bay Street and Lennox Street
Credit the City of Santa Cruz, Public Works Dept. Nathan Nguyen, P.E.
When finished, Phase I will extend from Natural Bridges Drive to Bay Street and is on track to be completed in September of this year.
Phase II, from Bay Street to Pacific Avenue at the wharf roundabout, has been designed and has all of the needed permits. Once all of the funding is in place, construction can begin.
The City of Santa Cruz will be hiring a design consultant soon for Segments 8 and 9 from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk to 17th Avenue.
Trail construction in Watsonville is moving forward. Granite Rock may be able start work on Segment 18 this month.
Due to cost overruns on other federal projects, the Central Federal Lands (CFL) has delayed funding for Segment 5 of the North Coast Rail Trail (Davenport to Wilder Ranch) until 2024. While a delay is very disappointing, we appreciate that the CFL is committed to making this project happen and to completing all of the pre-construction work so that this segment will be shovel-ready by the middle of 2021 if grants become available.
Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network Final Master Plan
Credit Santa Cruz County RTC
Please send an email comment to the RTC!
The Regional Transportation Commission will soon decide if the rail corridor will be used for passenger rail or some kind of bus service. Right now is the time to let them know you want rail service, not bus service, on the rail corridor. If you have two minutes, please use the form below to send the RTC an email.
The Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) recently kicked off the Monterey Bay Area Rail Network Integration Study which will lay the groundwork for implementing the 2018 California State Rail Plan. The plan includes regional rail service between Monterey County and Santa Clara County, Monterey and Santa Cruz, and the Coast Rail Corridor.
: Please take a quick RTC survey to support rail transit in the rail corridor!
Please support rail transit by taking a quick survey now!
The four-item Draft Short List of Alternatives for transit on the rail corridor has been released. Our input in support of a rail option is needed now to make it clear to the RTC staff and commissioners which choices are best for our community. The deadline for public input is May 11, 2020. The Draft Short List of Alternatives is as follows:
We have the opportunity to voice our opinion until May 11, 2020, when the RTC staff will give a recommendation to the Commission. The survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete. If you'd like suggestions on the survey, please see our question-by-question guide and comparison table below.
FORT’s Guide to The Survey:
Question 1: BRT meets none of the listed transportation needs.
Question 2: Light Rail meets all of the listed transportation needs.
Question 3: Commuter Rail meets all of the listed transportation needs.
Question 4: Autonomous Road “Train” meets some of the listed transportation needs. However, this would require expensive and time-consuming demolition and reconstruction of the entire rail corridor, would prevent any future rail use, and is an unproven technology, not currently regulated for use anywhere in the USA, that comes with many risks and unknowns.
Question 13: The survey asks about the importance of freight and other rail businesses. Please show support for Roaring Camp by checking “Very Important” and point out that Roaring Camp needs the rail line.
Question 15: One-way trips with a bicycle could be mentioned here.
Question 16: FORT recommends choosing these 2 options:
Question 18: asks for your final comments. Here are some suggested talking points:
FORT's Breakdown of the Alternatives Analysis Data:
Here is a quick comparison of the four short-listed options using only data from the RTC open house website.
To learn more, go to the RTC Online Open House.
To take a deeper dive into FORT’s analysis, see the document below, which translates the RTC letter grades into numeric scores for each alternative.
From Sally Arnold, Chair of the Friends of the Rail & Trail
Wishing you a clear 2020 vision of transportation in Santa Cruz County!