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FAQs

Will the trail be wide enough for bicycles and pedestrians?

The Coastal Rail Trail will typically have a paved width of 12 to 16 feet. Compare the minimum 12’ paved width of the rail trail to the Arana Gulch trail at 8’ wide, to the Wilder Ranch trail at 8’ wide, to the Watsonville Slough trails at 8’ wide, to the San Lorenzo River Levee path at 9’-10’ wide and it is easy to see the Coast Rail Trail will be plenty wide enough.

Is the rail corridor wide enough for trail and rail?

Yes, the rail corridor is wide enough to accommodate both trail and rail. 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. Of the 32-mile corridor, only 0.3 miles is less than the minimum desired width and design solutions have already been identified.

Is it safe to have a trail next to passenger rail service?

Yes. Several safeguards will be installed to separate trail users from trains. Fencing and landscape buffers will separate the trail from the tracks. The minimum 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, see Section 5 of the trail master plan design section.  The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy reports the addition of a separate trail actually reduces the number of accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists as they prefer using the paved path which keeps those users away from the tracks. Many successful rails-with-trails across the country stand as a testament to the ability of trains and trails to safely coexist.

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How is the Rail Trail associated with the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network?

The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network (MBSST Network) is a two-county pedestrian and bicycle pathway project that is envisioned to run from the Santa Cruz/San Mateo County line to Pacific Grove in Monterey County. Congressman Farr is a huge champion and secured millions in federal funds. The MBSST Network is comprised of the Rail Trail and associated spur trails that will connect the Rail Trail “spine” with other trails, destinations and key activity sites.

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How long is the Rail Trail?

The Rail Trail from Davenport to Watsonville is approximately 32 miles. On-street bike/pedestrian facilities and natural surface paths represent an additional 18 miles for a total of about 50 miles. Click here for a visual of the full 32-mile rail corridor as it moves through Santa Cruz County.

Who is the owner of the Rail Trail?

The MBSST Network is comprised of the 32 mile Rail Trail and 18 miles of associated spur trails connecting to other trails, parks, schools, other destinations and activity sites. The Rail Trail is the “spine” of the MBSST Network and will provide multi-use alternative transportation and coastal access.

Will there be other trails that connect to the Rail Trail?

The MBSST Network is comprised of the Rail Trail and the associated spur trails (A network of associated spur trails is identified that will connect the “spine” with other trails, destinations and activity sites). The Rail Trail is the “spine” of the MBSST Network and will provide multi-use alternative transportation and coastal access. The Rail Trail from Davenport to Watsonville is approximately 32 miles. On-street bike/ped facilities and natural surface paths represent an additional 18 miles for a total of about 50 miles.

Will there be an operational train as part of the Rail Trail project?

The “spine” of the MBSST will be built parallel to, not in place of, the operational rail line so that freight and passenger rail service may be provided. The purchase of the Santa Cruz branch rail line by the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) included the intent to maximize use of the corridor by operating passenger train service. Because both Roaring Camp Railroad and Iowa Pacific currently use the existing tracks, there are no plans to remove the tracks. The RTC acquired the rail line over a 20-year long public process using funds dedicated by Santa Cruz and California voters (Proposition 116) to preserve the rail line and expand rail and trail uses in the future. The RTC is currently studying the highest and best use of the rail corridor as part of the Unified Corridor Investment Study (UCS). The UCS will be finished in 2018. For more information see the Unified Corridor Investment Study Fact Sheet.

What is the timeline for completion of the Rail Trail?

FORT’s goal is to see the majority of the Rail Trail completed within 10 years. With the passage of Measure D, nearly all the funds needed to build the Rail Trail have been secured. The Rail Trail will be built in sections, a few miles at a time. At this time, a 2 mile section in Santa Cruz is scheduled to be built in 2018 and a 1 mile section in Watsonville is scheduled to be built in 2019. The design process has begun on about 7 additional miles with construction to follow. Design on other sections is scheduled to begin in the next two years.

 

How Can I Make A Donation?

You can support this legacy project by contributing to FORT’s effort to prioritize funding and construction of the Rail Trail. Your financial support will be used engage and educate the public and local agencies to keep the momentum going toward trail construction. The FORT website offers a secure online payment system. For more details visit our Donation page.

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