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I’m hearing the line that we have two choices on how to build the Rail Trail. The line makes it sound like the public is just beginning to weigh the issue and that there are two equivalent choices before us. There aren’t.

One choice has already been chosen – to build a walk/bike trail alongside an intact rail line, thus preserving the option for future rail service. This choice has been chosen by the county transportation commission and the cities and county it passes through. More than $40 million has been allocated, design and engineering is underway on a third of the 32-mile trail, and the first segment will be open next year.

The other choice is one rejected when the first choice was chosen. It is a trail only, train never idea. No engineering, no governmental approval, no funding allocated, and it couldn’t be built for 10 years – because we would have to undo all the work that has been done on the choice already picked. And this choice eliminates the option of ever having rail service, unless you believe in railbanking, which is removing the tracks, building a trail, then tearing up the trail and rebuilding the tracks.

Not much of a choice is it? The chart above shows you why.

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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. I couldn’t agree more. Santa Cruz County absolutely will need a viable rapid transit option of some kind or choke on its own traffic. To abandon the option of the existing rail corridor would be the height of foolishness.

  2. Railbanking is a federally-administered program for rail lines which are no longer in use & which would otherwise be abandoned, parceled up & sold off. The Santa Cruz coast rail corridor is now publically-owned. Due to its planned use as a transit & trail corridor (‘Rail with Trail’), the rail line is not a candidate for abandonment. Therefore, railbanking is not an option, in spite of what well-heeled bicycle advocates would have us believe.

    And, we don’t need a Tram & Trail on our rail line at some point in the far off future: We need it now.

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