The Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission purchased the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line with the vision of creating a corridor for passenger and freight rail line, with a path along the tracks for use by hikers, bikers, joggers, and wheelchairs. The 32-mile trail will run from from Watsonville to Davenport, and will form the spine of a larger Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network.
The trail will, of course, run through Aptos, as seen on this map:
Several portions of the trail have already had funds allocated for creation of the path along the tracks, as can be seen in this document. Notable portions are 2.4 miles from Natural Bridges to Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz and a 4,000 foot long path parallel to the tracks in Watsonville.
It is worth noting that at present, no projects have been designated for Aptos, despite the fact that the tracks run through some very scenic portions of the county, as well as through some fairly densely populated neighborhoods which would stand to benefit considerably from having a pedestrian-and-bike friendly path which could take residents and visitors into and out of the new Aptos Village.
The rail trail provides an historic opportunity for Aptos, as it could be a real benefit for the community by encouraging tourism to the area and keeping people out of their cars and the cars off the road. Anyone interested in the project is encouraged to get involved by attending meetings of the Santa Cruz County Transportation Commission, or by volunteering or financially supporting Friends of Santa Cruz County Rail and Trail.
There is a competing vision for the rail and trail: ditching the rail, and converting the whole path into one purely for pedestrians and bicycles. Proponents of this approach say that a train service will never be economically viable and that having both rail and trail in the same corridor will be enormously costly and likely never get off the ground.
Related Posts On AptosCommunityNews
- Zach Friend Interview: Passenger Train and Rail Trail (March 31, 2016)
- Rail Trail Debate Rages on (November 16, 2015)
- Passenger Rail Opponents Meet on Thursday (September 15, 2015)
- Ellen Pirie Talks Aptos Village, Rail Corridor (May 8, 2015)
- Alternatives to Passenger Rail Service in Santa Cruz (July 24, 2014)
- The Trouble with Santa Cruz Passenger Rail (July 19, 2014)
- RTC Passenger Rail Study Workshop July 17 (July 15, 2014)
- Rail Trail Faces June 4 Deadline (May 30, 2014)
- Sanctuary Trail Plan (November 17, 2013)
The Santa Cruz Rail Trail in the News
- Monterey Bay Scenic Rail Trail
- Aptos High Rail 2 Trail Club
- Friends of Santa Cruz County Rail and Trail
- Aptos Rail Trail