January 26, 2018

City of Santa Cruz Moves Ahead with West Side Rail Trail

Update: February 28th @ 1:20 pm

Thanks to New Leaf Community Markets and their property owner for working with the City of Santa Cruz to ensure the westside rail trail moves forward with the optimal design standard that will best accommodate all trail users. They are working on details of an easement so that the trail will remain in the rail corridor along the ocean side of the tracks between Fair and Swift Streets and be 12-feet wide.

The City of Santa Cruz is moving forward with the construction of the first section of the much-anticipated Rail Trail. Santa Cruz residents and visitors will be able to enjoy a 1.36-mile long paved trail from Natural Bridges Drive to Bay Street by the end of 2018. There have been some recent community conversations regarding a short detour route onto city streets. Ecology Action, an engaged 20-year Rail Trail advocate, hopes and is working to ensure that the street detour is only a temporary placeholder, to be replaced with a solution that places the trail in the rail corridor.

Our update report should clarify some points on this fast-developing Rail Trail issue.

On Tuesday, January 23, the Santa Cruz City Council voted unanimously to approve the design and go out to bid for construction of the west side section of the Rail Trail with an “Ingalls Street detour” onto city streets as a backup plan. New Leaf Community Market and the City are working on a plan that keeps the trail in the rail corridor.  The Council approved an additional $109,000 of cost that is being covered by a Coastal Conservancy grant made available by the work of the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) for this $3.1M section of trail. This is phase 1 of the west side trail. Phase 2 will connect Bay Street to the wharf roundabout, which is scheduled for completion in 2019.

Ecology Action has been an active supporter of the Rail Trail for approximately 20 years. Ecology Action, along with other non-profits, raised roughly $100,000 of private funds to leverage public funds to help the City of Santa Cruz design and build the west side section of the Rail Trail. This will be the first section of the Rail Trail to be completed and will provide safe, car-free, and convenient bike and pedestrian transportation for a variety of purposes.

Ecology Action has been encouraging New Leaf to work with the City to develop a plan that keeps the Rail Trail in the rail corridor and on the ocean side of the RR tracks. On January 29th, New Leaf released a new statement indicating that they will be signing an easement agreement to modify their parking lot and allow the rail trail to stay in the rail corridor with no detours onto the streets. Ecology Action has a long and fruitful partnership with New Leaf, as they have sponsored our Bike to Work Day for over 20 years, providing support in many ways, including hosting breakfast for bike commuters twice a year. They have also sponsored and supported Earth Day Santa Cruz and untold other local non-profits. New Leaf contributes to making Santa Cruz healthy and more sustainable.

Ecology Action supports the most practical, feasible, and sustainable multi-modal transportation use possible from the rail corridor and will stay engaged as a positive, informative, collaborative, and civil voice of reason, compromise, and progress.

We look forward to your involvement in helping create a path to a better future.  Please contact Piet Canin, Ecology Action’s VP of Transportation, if you have any questions, suggestions, or other comments regarding the Rail Trail and rail corridor at pcanin@ecoact.org or 831-515-1327.