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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.

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Stephen Slade is the Executive Director at Land Trust of Santa Cruz County. He has more than 40 years non-profit experience in fundraising, communications, and management – and a deep passion for the lands that make Santa Cruz special.

Find out more about Stephen Slade…

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. We don’t need a gentrification inducing elitist trophy dog walking park. We need a transportation corridor. We need an alternative for people to abandon Hwy 1 altogether. The traffic on Hwy 1 will never get better regardless of how many lanes are built or self driving cars are filling those lanes.

  2. The “Trail Now, Rail Never” movement appears to value a world class bicycle course over a pragmatic, democratic and farsighted transport avenue. A rail shuttle to the Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument eventually could get thousands of cars off Highway One and avoid the parking problems which were recently addressed at Muir Woods.

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