Coastal Rail Trail Sees Much Progress

The City of Santa Cruz is hosting an Open House on January 28th, 2016 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. to share progress plans for the 2-mile Coastal Rail Trail within the City of Santa Cruz.

The Open House will be held at the Santa Cruz Police Department Community Room, 155 Center Street, Santa Cruz, CA.
The City of Santa Cruz is the lead agency on design and construction of the Coastal Rail Trail within its jurisdiction and is working in partnership with the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC). 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.

The project will be a 12 to 16-foot bicycle and pedestrian path running from Natural Bridges Drive to Pacific Avenue near the wharf and was identified as the top priority project in the RTC’s Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network Master Plan. Construction is estimated to start in early 2017 and take one year. Funding for design, environmental studies, construction, construction engineering, management, and permitting for this project comes from federal earmarks, State Transportation Improvement Program, City of Santa Cruz, California Coastal Conservancy, Friends of the Rail and Trail, Ecology Action and Bike Santa Cruz County.

In other news…

  • Late last year, the City of Watsonville received a $600,000 Active Transportation Program grant to complete the City’s Rail Trail segment from Lee Road to Walker Street. Previously, only a portion of the segment had been funded. The grant was matched with local funds from Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz County Friends of the Rail and Trail and the City of Watsonville. Preparation of environmental and construction documents are in progress and construction is scheduled to begin in 2017.
  • Design, environmental, and permitting work on the North Coast Rail Trail project will kick-off in February, 2016. The project will be implemented by the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Central Federal Lands Division in partnership with the RTC. FHWA awarded $6.3 million to the 5 mile project that will begin at the Wilder Ranch State Park parking lot and extend north to the vicinity of Panther and YellowBank beaches. Matching funds were provided by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County and the California Coastal Conservancy.
  • The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, the RTC’s largest fundraising partner, is raising $5 million to match grants for the North Coast and Watsonville segments of the Coastal Rail Trail. About $1 million has been raised so far and all donations, regardless of size, will be doubled until January 31, 2016.
  • Friends of the Rail and Trail (FOR&T) is advancing future trail projects, conducting outreach activities and organizing clean-up events along the rail corridor. FOR&T has raised $27,000 thus far to forward development of the Rail Trail from Seabright to Live Oak with the intention of leveraging private funds with public grants to help begin preliminary design work.
  • Bike Santa Cruz County awarded the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County with a 2015 Wheelie Award for organization’s commitment of a $3.3 million match to the successful North Coast rail trail segment grant application.

Project background

The RTC owns the railroad right-of-way on behalf of the community with the intention to expand use of the corridor for train, transit and bicycle/pedestrian purposes. The 32-mile rail line runs from Davenport to Watsonville and passes within one mile of half of the county’s population. The RTC adopted an award winning Master Plan for the 50-mile Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail (MBSST) Network in 2013. The Master Plan identifies the “rail trail” as the system spine and defines its location adjacent to the train tracks along the rail corridor. All four neighboring coastal jurisdictions adopted the Master Plan in a show of support and endorsement. Through natural surface trails and other on-road facilities the trail network will connect to activity centers, schools, coastal access points and other key destinations.


For more information or to sign up for e-news updates, please visit the RTC website or email


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