The Trail Only/Train Never folks took out ads the past few weeks arguing for abandoning the rail option. There were the usual arguments presented as responses to “myths” supposedly put forth by Rail Trail supporters.
The Land Trust supports building the Rail Trail ASAP and these aren’t our myths because we’ve never said them. We’ve never said rail service would “dramatically” reduce Highway 1 congestion – just that it was an option that should be left on the table. We don’t consider a 12-foot+ wide trail “narrow” (the width of a lane of freeway). You can read our position on these and other Rail Trail matters here.
The heart of our position is that we want the Rail Trail built ASAP. We think the fastest way to build it is according to the plan adopted after years of public input and planning – which is a plan for a trail alongside the existing rail line. This plan has already received $18 million in public funding and the Land Trust has committed $5.7 million to match those funds.
These funds will build or design 13 miles of the 32-mile trail. The first segment in the City of Santa Cruz will be open next year. Others up the North Coast and in Watsonville will follow. Funding has been secured to fund design of the Santa Cruz to 17th Avenue segment. The trail is being built NOW.
RTC has shown that undoing all this – the public planning, the grants, the design, etc – will lead to YEARS, perhaps a decade or more of delay. See excerpts from the staff report here.
The ad calls all this a ‘myth” and says “political will” is all that is necessary to build a trail only in no time at all. Political will isn’t a magic wand and all the steps identified by RTC staff will still have to be taken IF the RTC decides to abandon its own plan. We want to build the Rail Trail ASAP, not stop the progress already made in its tracks.