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Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network (Coastal Rail Trail)

The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network (Trail Network) is a 50-mile bicycle and pedestrian pathway along the coast of Santa Cruz County, from the San Mateo County line in the north to the Monterey County line at Pajaro. The Trail Network merges plans for a bicycle/pedestrian trail along the rail line – including coastal alignments and neighborhood spurs – into a connected network that will overlap and converge to provide safe and convenient route choices.

The Trail Networks system’s “spine” will be the Coastal Rail Trail, a bicycle and pedestrian trail within the 32-mile Santa Cruz Branch Rail right-of-way, adjacent to the train tracks. The Coastal Rail Trail will serve transportation, recreation and interpretive uses for walkers, joggers, bicyclists, people with mobility impairments, and families. The rail right of way passes within 1 mile of half of the County’s population and will provide access to 44 schools and 92 parks (see map). The Coastal Rail Trail will coexist with existing and potential future train service and abide by conditions set forth as part of the rail purchase.

Status of Current Coastal Rail Trail Projects

Segment 5 – North Coast

Phase I and Phase II state and federal environmental review was completed in 2019 and 2021. Phase I and Phase II final design and permitting are scheduled to be complete in 2023 and construction funding is programmed for 2024. Phase III is scheduled to complete environmental review in 2024, design in 2025, and begin construction in 2027.

Segment 7 – Westside of Santa Cruz

Construction of Phase I was completed in December 2020 and is now open. Construction of Phase II began in July 2022 and is scheduled to be completed in 2024.

Segment 8 & 9 – Boardwalk to 17th Ave

The multi-use path cantilevered off the San Lorenzo River Railroad Trestle was completed in 2019. Preliminary engineering and environmental review will be complete in 2023. Final design is scheduled for completion in 2024 and the project is scheduled to go to construction in 2025.

Segment 10 & 11 – 17th Ave to State Park Drive

The project, with the exception of the Capitola trestle, began the environmental phase in 2021 and is expected to be completed in 2023. The final design phase is expected to be completed in 2025. The project is scheduled to go to construction in 2026.

Segment 12 – State Park Drive to Rio Del Mar Blvd

This project is being completed as part of the Highway 1 (State Park Drive to Freedom Boulevard) Auxiliary Lanes and Bus-on-Shoulder project. Environmental, right of way, and design work is scheduled to be completed by 2023, and pending funding availability, could go to construction in 2025.

Segment 18 – Watsonville

The environmental phase was completed in 2015. Phase I opened in spring 2021. Phase II is in the final design phase.

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Background

The broad vision is for a Trail Network project that will span the coast of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary from the San Mateo/Santa Cruz County line to Pacific Grove, in Monterey County. The RTC is leading the planning effort for project development in Santa Cruz County and the Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) is responsible for Monterey County projects. This approach will ensure that the planned bicycle/pedestrian network will provide connectivity throughout the county and into the Monterey Bay region, and serve as the California Coastal Trail in Santa Cruz County.

 

Resources

Funding

Measure D logoIn November 2016, Santa Cruz County voters approved Measure D – which commits 17% of revenue from the sales tax for trail construction, maintenance and management. Congressman Sam Farr is one of the project’s most passionate champions and secured millions of federal dollars to kickoff construction of this two-county path while he was in Congress. In 2013, the RTC selected specific sections of the trail to receive $5.3 million in federal and state funds.

Funding partnerships with the California Coastal ConservancyLand Trust of Santa Cruz County and Friends of the Rail and Trail will enable the RTC to leverage state and federal grants.

Final Master Plan

The award winning Final Master Plan establishes the continuous alignment for the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network, including the Coastal Rail Trail spine, and associated spur trails. The Final Master Plan identifies planning issues associated with the trail’s construction and presents design, implementation, long-term operation and maintenance, policies, and options. The Master Plan was adopted November 7, 2013 with a revision adopted February 6, 2014, after a 3-year-long public and stakeholder engagement process.

Final Environmental Document
Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was certified on November 7, 2013 and an addendum was considered on February 6, 2014.

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