June 2016

Two Additional Miles of Rail Trail Move Forward

Following last month’s great attendance at an Open House to review the design of the north coast rail trail project spanning from Wilder Ranch to Yellowbank Beach, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County and the RTC committed $700K and $300K, respectively, to close a 2-mile rail trail gap from Yellowbank to Davenport.

The additional project augments the current 5.4-mile $10.5M project to Yellowbank beach, which is also funded by a large donation from the Land Trust, as well as a Federal Lands Access Program Grant and the California Coastal Conservancy. The original project, however, would leave a 2-mile gap in what will eventually be a 50-mile network of trails once the San Vicente Redwoods trails, the Coast Dairies trails, and the City of Santa Cruz rail trail will be constructed. The additional $1M will fund preliminary engineering, environmental compliance, permitting and design of the 2.1-mile gap project as well as ADA compliant parking lots at Yellowbank beach and Davenport. This work will get the project “shovel ready,” which greatly improves the chances of getting grants for construction.

The Federal Highway Administration Central Federal Lands Highway Division (CFL) will be the lead agency for this 2-mile segment as a tag-on to the current project being implemented which will realize a significant saving due to economies of scale. CFL is working in partnership with the RTC and California State Parks. The RTC is the owner of the railroad right-of-way and is the agency responsible for overall implementation of the rail trail along the 32-mile rail corridor from Watsonville to Davenport.

Supervisor Ryan Coonerty indicated that he is “thrilled that we will be able to move forward with designing two more miles of the rail trail on the north coast, which will connect the rail trail to the town of Davenport.  A car-free path through one of the most beautiful places on earth is going to be an incredible asset to our community.”

Land Trust Executive Director Stephen Slade said the goal is to build a continuous trail system from Davenport to downtown Santa Cruz.  “Getting the Rail Trail to Davenport is the last piece of the north coast trail system,” he said.

In total, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County has committed $4M towards the north coast rail trail project, in addition to $300K for the City of Watsonville rail trail project. The Land Trust has also committed $1.5M towards grant applications that if successful, would enable design and environmental clearance to proceed for a rail trail project from the San Lorenzo River crossing to 17th Avenue. To date, eight miles of trails are already funded, designs are underway, and Open Houses have been held to seek public input. Construction is expected to begin on these sections next year.

The Coastal Rail Trail serves as the spine for the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail (MBSST) Network – a planned 50-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail system that will eventually connect to Monterey County’s system of trails. The 32-mile rail trail will connect Davenport to Watsonville and passes within one mile of half of the county’s population. The trail network will provide connectivity to activity centers, coastal access points and other key destinations. The RTC finalized and adopted an award winning Trail Network Master Plan and an Environmental Impact Report that is the guiding project implementation.

For more information

For more information about the Trail Network project or to sign up for e-news, please visit the RTC website or email info@sccrtc.org.