Final Environmental Impact Report for the Proposed North Coast Rail Trail Project Now Available

The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) has released the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed North Coast Rail Trail Project.

The Proposed Project is a 7.5-mile multi-use bicycle and pedestrian trail that would extend along the rail corridor from Wilder Ranch State Park on the south to Davenport on the north in unincorporated Santa Cruz County. It comprises the majority of Segment 5 of the larger Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail (MBSST) Network. In addition to the trail, the Proposed Project includes improvements to three existing parking areas with connections to the trail: Davenport Beach, Bonny Doon Beach, and Panther/Yellowbank Beach.

As specified in the Notice of Availability, the Final EIR was prepared in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and identifies potentially significant impacts to a number of required environmental topics, including Aesthetics, Agricultural Resources, Biological Resources, Cultural Resources, Geology/Soils, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Hazards/Hazardous Materials, Hydrology/Water Quality, Noise, Transportation/Traffic, and Tribal Cultural Resources.

The Final EIR includes an evaluation of two trail alignments, the Proposed Project (Coastal Side) and Alternative 1 (Trail Only), at an equal level of detail. Under the Proposed Project, the railroad tracks would remain in place with no improvements, and the multi-use trail would be located next to the tracks on the coastal side. Under Alternative 1, the railroad tracks and ties would be removed, and the multi-use trail would be located on the rail bed. Additionally, the EIR includes evaluations of Alternatives 2 (Inland Side), 3 (Farmers’ Alternative), and 4 (No Project) in comparison to the Proposed Project.

The EIR identifies potential impacts from construction and operation of the Project, mitigation measures to reduce impacts, residual impacts, and monitoring requirements. The EIR identifies a significant and unavoidable project-level impact (i.e., mitigation would not reduce the impact to a less than significant level) to historical resources for Alternatives 1 and 3. The EIR does not identify significant and unavoidable project-level impacts for the Proposed Project or Alternative 2. However, the Proposed Project and Alternatives 1-3 would result in significant and unavoidable cumulative impacts to traffic.

The Final EIR is available online at www.sccrtc.org/north-coast.

The hard copy is available for review at the RTC office (1523 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA). Hard copies will be available at the following locations starting February 12th,2019:

Comments may be provided in writing (email: NorthCoastRailTrail@sccrtc.org or mail the RTC attn: Cory Caletti, Sr Planner/Rail Trail Program Manager, 1523 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95060) or by verbal testimony at the March 7, 2019 RTC public hearing scheduled to begin at 9:30 am at the County Board of Supervisors Chambers (701 Ocean Street, 5th Floor, Santa Cruz). Comments received prior to 12:00 pm on February 27, 2019, will be included in the RTC’s March meeting packet in hardcopy and on the RTC website. Subsequent comments submitted, received by 12:00 pm on March 6, 2019, will be provided to the RTC as handouts at the March 7, 2019 meeting and will be posted on the RTC’s website prior to the meeting.