We saw something last week that you don’t often see, in fact, that I don’t recall ever seeing: unanimous agreement on the Rail Trail. The occasion was the meeting of the Regional Transportation Commission. The Land Trust, Bike Santa Cruz County, Friends of the Rail and Trail and the Great Trail group all supported the staff recommendation. The recommendation was about how to deal with some surprising obstacles in building the North Coast segment of the Rail Trail.
Everyone also agrees it was complicated, so I’ll spare you the details. What everyone agreed to was RTC basically using the environmental impact report process to decide whether to build the trail on the coast side of the tracks or the inland side, or whether to abandon the tracks all together. The report will take about nine months, so our rare unanimous agreement will likely last until early next year when the commission will pick which option to follow.
The process is necessary to speed up decision-making so that the entire project can be built before time runs out on the $6 million federal grant that is funding the North Coast segment of the Rail Trail (along with $4 million in Land Trust matching funds). Advocates for the “trail only” approach said at the meeting that they want RTC to pick the “trail only” option. They have the problem that the time it will take to undo the basic Rail Trail plan would certainly mean losing the federal money.
But that argument is for another day. After the meeting I chatted with Miles Reiter and Great Trail’s new Executive Director, Gail McNulty. We all agreed we want a great trail and decided to leave it that vague. Why ruin a day when we all agreed on something?