In October 2012, the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) completed the purchase of the Santa Cruz Coastal Rail Corridor running 32 miles from Davenport to Watsonville. The following year, they completed the Rail Trail Master Plan and distributed funds to build the first few sections of this paved biking and walking path. The RTC had secured federal funds, thanks to US Congressman Sam Farr, for construction of these much anticipated sections of trail.
Local sustainable transportation community groups including Ecology Action, Friends of the Rail and Trail, and Bike Santa Cruz County collaborated to advocate for a Watsonville and Santa Cruz section of Rail Trail to be funded. The rail corridor in Santa Cruz connects neighborhoods, grade schools and businesses on the westside to the Beach Boardwalk, Cowell’s Beach, the two-way Beach Street bikeway and the recently improved bike and walking bridge over the San Lorenzo River.
To convince Santa Cruz City Public Works staff and City Council, Ecology Action lead a private fundraising effort to illustrate the level of community interest and commitment to getting the Rail Trail built. Nearly thirty individuals and businesses donated over $40,000 to nudge Santa Cruz to commit to connecting the westside of Santa Cruz to the beach with a biking and walking path. All donors made a difference in this effort but several stood out. A massive thank you to Santa Cruz Bicycles, Giro/Bell, Ibis, Fox and local business such as Kelly’s Bakery. Additional donations from individuals such as Deborah Bulger, Richard Stover, Gabrielle Stocker, and staff and board of Ecology Action completed the needed funds to start on the project.
Ecology Action truly appreciates the individual and community support that has propelled the advocacy to see this legacy project move forward. Each of us can play a critical role as the main players – the RTC, Cities of Santa Cruz, Watsonville, & Capitola, and County of Santa Cruz – are leading the effort to build a safe, scenic, and convenient bike and walking connections for everyone to enjoy.
This next .8 mile section of Westside Rail Trail is already under construction and is scheduled to be completed next summer. For more information on this section of Trail visit the City’s webpage. You can also view a map, artist rending and fact sheet on the under construction section of the Rail Trail connecting the Bay/CA intersection with the Beach Boardwalk.