Debunking Myths about Measure D and the Rail Trail
There have been a few myths floating around about the rail corridor and Measure D that we would like to dispel. Get the facts below.
Is Measure D Mostly About Highway Widening?
Some have mislabeled Measure D as a highway widening effort, but in reality three times as much money is designated for sustainable transportation than Highway 1 auxiliary lanes. About 20% of the total funds will go to Highway 1 auxiliary lanes. These lanes connect highway entry ramps with exits, such as the lanes recently built from Morrissey Boulevard to Soquel Drive. Measure D will help fund new auxiliary lanes from Soquel Drive to State Park in Aptos. Some $9 million of the designated Highway Corridors allocation will fund two bike/pedestrian bridges over Highway 1 at Chanticleer and Mar Vista, and additional money will fund carpool, traveler information and safety service patrol. Measure D, although it has money for highway auxiliary lanes, is a significant shift away from auto-centric dominant funding. It’s a balanced compromise that advances sustainable transportation and will fund bike, pedestrian, senior and disabled transit, carpool and other sustainable transportation options. More money is allocated for the rail trail and rail corridor than Highway 1.
Is Measure D About Train Service?
No ballot measure money will go for rail transit service, rather funds will be used for a comprehensive study of potential rail transit options. The study will analyze ridership numbers, capital and operating costs, green, energy efficient, and quiet rail transit technology choices, and neighborhood compatibility to determine if rail transit is right for Santa Cruz County. Funds will also go toward rail corridor improvements and maintenance.
Can’t We Just Use Federal and State Funding?
Both federal and state transportation funding sources have been dwindling in recent years making it increasingly difficult for counties like Santa Cruz to receive the level of support we need. For these reasons, counties across the state containing 81% of California’s population, have already voted for local transportation sales tax measures because it provides a consistent source of funding that counties have control over. Counties with local transportation sales taxes also are more competitive for state and federal transportation funds.
Isn’t the Rail Corridor Too Narrow For Both Rail & Trail?
Actually, the rail corridor is wide enough to accommodate both. The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC), who owns the coastal rail corridor and is the lead on the rail trail project, has surveyed and studied the rail corridor width extensively. Of the 32-mile corridor, only 1/3 of a mile is less than the minimum width and design solutions have been identified. Solutions to other challenges will be developed further as segments are funded and designed. 96% of the trail will have a usable width of 12 feet or more which includes 2 foot shoulders on each side.
Is It Safe To Have a Bike and Walking Path Next To Train Tracks?
Several safeguards will be taken to keep trail users separated from trains. Fencing, buffer landscaping, and space will separate the trail from the tracks and trains. The distance between the center of the tracks and the trail edge closest to the tracks will be at least 8 1/2 feet. For more information on the rail trail design and plans please see the trail master plan design section and scroll to Section 5. Many successful rails-with-trails across the country stand as a testament to the ability of trains and trails to safely coexist.