Visualizing Sustainable Transportation


Complete Streets visuals

Project Overview

The Visualizing Sustainable Transportation project utilizes new and innovative tools to improve the public outreach and engagement process.

Phase 1, which was completed in December 2017, utilized augmented reality technology to demonstrate potential future sustainable transportation and land use options at two locations: Soquel Drive at Chanticleer Avenue and Natural Bridges Drive at the rail crossing. Physical installations, called OWL viewers were placed at the two sites. Looking into the OWL viewers participants saw how existing conditions could transform into multimodal transportation hubs with short and long term investments. Read the Phase 1 Fact Sheet (en español) for more information.

For Phase 2 of the Visualizing Sustainable Transportation project the RTC partnered with the City of Watsonville to develop a Complete Streets Plan for the Downtown Watsonville area to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and motorists of all ages and abilities. The City collected input for the plan at various points throughout the summer. View a list of events.

The RTC worked closely with the City to develop renderings of potential improvements for Downtown Watsonville will be available in virtual reality (VR). By using VR to visualize potential improvements the RTC aims to improve and expand the public participation process to different demographics and audiences. The input received will help the City of Watsonville determine which transportation improvements to include in the Downtown Complete Streets Plan.


The goal of this project is to enhance public engagement and dialogue of complex transportation and land use concepts.

Visualizations highlight:

  • Optimized use of existing streets through enhanced bicycle, pedestrian and transit facilities
  • Expanded safe mobility options for all members of the community
  • Options that decrease greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle miles traveled
  • Complete streets and mixed-use neighborhoods
  • Options that decrease personal transportation expenses thereby increasing the amount of money that can be reinvested in the local economy

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What does the term “sustainable transportation” mean?

The RTC approved a set of goals and policies in the 2014 Regional Transportation Plan that are based on developing a sustainable transportation system for Santa Cruz County. “Sustainable transportation” encompasses not only improvements to access and mobility and preservation of our transportation system but also the quality of our natural environment, the economic vitality of the region and public health, safety and equity. These three “E’s” (environment, economy and equity) are often referred to as the triple bottom line of sustainability.

Why is the SCCRTC conducting the Visualizing Sustainable Transportation project?

The RTC is tasked with planning for both short and long term transportation needs. Long term planning requires working closely with the community and partner entities, many of which are looking towards sustainable transportation planning concepts to maximize environmental, economic and equity benefits for future generations. However, it can be difficult to visualize or imagine what sustainable planning concepts look like within the context of our community. Our community is growing (albeit slowly) and this growth is geographically constrained by the ocean on one side and the Santa Cruz Mountains on the other.  The Visualizing Sustainable Transportation project aims to provide graphic, realistic visualizations of short and long term sustainable transportation strategies in innovative ways to enable community members to immerse themselves in these concepts and provide feedback based on a deeper understanding of how our community could grow and change.

Can I view the visuals online?

Links to the VR visuals and the survey will be available on the RTC website in late summer.

What does “Complete Streets” mean?

Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work. There is no singular design prescription for Complete Streets; each one is unique and responds to its community context. A complete street may include: sidewalks, bike lanes, special bus lanes, comfortable and accessible public transportation stops, frequent and safe crossing opportunities, median islands, accessible pedestrian signals, curb extensions, narrower travel lanes, and more.

RTC Contact

Anais Schenk
Project Manager
(831) 460-3200