Top 10 Reasons Not to Build the Rail-With-Trail


The good folks at the Train Trust of Santa Cruz County recently posted their “Top Ten Reasons to Build the Rail Trail”.  Obviously, we created our own list of reasons not to build the proposed rail-with-trail.    

Quick side note, the Train Trust continues to use the ambiguous term “rail trail” and includes a photograph in their post looking directly down the center of the corridor.  Time for a reality check.  The proposed trail would be built adjacent to the tracks (properly referenced as a rail-with-trail) and would decimate the environment within the corridor.  We thought their mission statement was to protect and care for our extraordinary lands?  

We digress.  Without further ado, here are the top ten reasons not to build the proposed rail-with-trail:  
1.     Doubles the cost compared to building a trail down the middle of the corridor
2.     Requires 22 new bridges; including two freeway crossings
3.     Includes miles of retaining wall
4.     Removes thousands of trees and plants
5.     Installs a fence running the entire length of our county
6.     No separation between bicyclists and pedestrians
7.     Not 100% funded; new taxes and grants needed
8.     Circumvents existing UCIS study for best use of corridor
9.     Will include unsafe surface street reroutes
10.  There will never be a train

An Overwhelming Bias

An Overwhelming Bias

The Santa Cruz RTC presented a report outlining possible uses of the rail corridor. The report was meant to be the beginning of an “open and transparent” process to determine the highest and “best use” of the corridor. However, the numbers included in the report, with little attribution or factual reference, don’t add up, and the analysis is so biased against a trail-only solution that it lacks credibility.


See that trail on the left? That's a 20-foot wide separated trail designed for transportation. The setback (distance to train tracks) is over 20 feet. What about the trail on the right? That one is about 10-feet wide, with no separation, and was designed for recreational use. The setback is around 10 feet and it runs adjacent to a tourist train.

At first blush, the two trails seem very similar, and that's the problem. Unfortunately, our corridor is too narrow to keep the train tracks and build the trail on the left. Instead, we've unwittingly been sold a recreational trail and most folks have no idea.

The rail-trail debate would be over if we could build the trail on the left, but we can't. Call us crazy, but we truly believe that this trail, if done properly, would change lives. It's the type of infrastructure the create a new way of life, making our community more walkable, sustainable, and healthy. Join us in saying: "Give Trail a Chance".