By Piet Canin, VP of Transportation, Ecology Action
The San Lorenzo River train trestle is an important gateway for those walking and biking to a variety of popular destinations. The trestle connects the beach Boardwalk, West Cliff Drive, downtown and the west side to the Seabright neighborhood, eastside of Santa Cruz and further points eastward. The trestle serves as an important connection to the Riverwalk, traveling to the downtown from the eastside, and vis-versa. This popular narrow walkway is used by parents pushing baby strollers, bike commuters, and kids walking and biking to school but its width is currently sub-standard as its impossible for a pedestrian and cyclist to pass comfortably as they travel in opposite directions.
The Trestle walkway is part of the Coastal Rail Trail which the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) manages and is the lead implementing agency for in conjunction with local agency partners. The RTC’s master plan for the Rail Trail details improvements for this busy crossing along with the plans for an entire 32-mile long bicycle and pedestrian trail.
For the past 3 years Friends of the Rail & Trail and Ecology Action advocated for a wider trestle crossing as we view it as a key coastal gateway that is a current choke point for biking and walking. Fortunately, we had a receptive government champion in Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisor Ryan Coonerty and his staff who helped put trestle improvements in motion. Supervisor Coonerty helped secure $550,000 from a California Natural Resource Agency Grant to design and permit widening of the trestle crossing. The crossing will be about doubled in width to about 10 feet across. The City of Santa Cruz will complete this preliminary work that should begin by fall 2017 and an approximately $2 million will then be needed for construction. Land Trust of Santa Cruz and the RTC also worked on moving this section of Rail Trail forward.
We look forward to an improved bike and walking connections along our coast as sections of the rail trail get built incrementally as funds become available. Ecology Action, which fiscally sponsors Friends of the Rail & Trail, is dedicated to bike and walking improvements that foster a healthier, more sustainable and livable community for us all.
Completing the Riverwalk Path
The Riverwalk provides a great, mostly car-free, path for many purposes and it is soon to be completely car-free! The City of Santa Cruz will begin construction in early spring 2017 to connect the missing piece of the path on the eastside of the Riverwalk. This new connection will go under the Soquel Avenue bridge and over the Branciforte Creek to San Lorenzo Park and should be completed by the end of 2017. Currently people traveling from the the river mouth must detour off the path onto Riverside Avenue, across Soquel Avenue, onto Dakota Avenue and into SL Park.
With this new connection kids, families, seniors, and other path-users can enjoy a route without car traffic. The map below shows how this new work will complete the Riverwalk as a 5-mile loop encircling the San Lorenzo River.