Good news! The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) approved on June 16th a final version of the Transportation Improvement Plan (TRIP) which Trail Now believes moves us closer than ever to a world class rail-trail. In a nutshell, a trail-only option is back on the table.
The RTC listened to feedback from the public and Trail Now and adjusted TRIP in significant ways:
The language is clear that supporting the measure does not mean rail will necessarily be advanced.
- Future use of the corridor will be established by an open and balanced decision process.
- The total allocation for rail was revised down from 15% to 8%, focused on maintenance and repairs only until the disposition of the corridor is determined.
- The Pajaro train station and its $10M was removed from the plan.
- The plan allows for studying all transportation options; not just passenger rail.
- Monies in the "rail corridor bucket" can be used for other transportation improvements in or near the corridor once its disposition is determined.
This is the first time we have seen the RTC explicitly acknowledge that a passenger train with an adjacent trail is not the only option for the rail corridor. Additionally, the RTC specifically commits to an open and transparent analysis of the options. Based on Trail Now's research, we strongly believe such analysis will easily favor a trail-only approach.
We commend the RTC for listening to our community and adjusting TRIP.
There is much left to do and Trail Now will continue to work hard to inform the public and transform our spectacular rail corridor into a resource that benefits us all. We will also be supporting the Tax Measure, because we believe it is the best way to "get people moving" in our county.