Caltrans has awarded the City of Santa Cruz a $9 million Active Transportation Program grant to build the second part of the Westside Rail Trail. Formally known as Segment 7 Phase II, this section will complete Segment 7. Connecting with the already-built Phase I section of the trail that ends at the corner of Bay and California, the new section of trail will follow alongside the tracks as they briefly parallel Bay Street before gently sloping down to connect with Depot Park and then link to the existing Beach Street bike path where Pacific Avenue meets Beach at the foot of the wharf.
Connecting the Westside, the Beach, and Downtown
The trail will provide a way for cyclists and pedestrians to travel safely and easily back and forth between the Westside, the beach, downtown Santa Cruz, and the river levee paths. It will provide a safer route to school for students who bike to the Westside to attend Mission Hill Middle School, Santa Cruz High School, PCS charter school, and UCSC. The design for this new part of the trail also includes features that will support an innovative active transportation education and encouragement program at Bay View Elementary School. Once the trail is complete, residents of the Westside will have a new, safe, ADA-compliant route to the beach and downtown. Bypassing trafficky Bay Street and steep Beach Hill, this path will allow people to easily ride their bikes to the beach and back, and will especially benefit Little Guards and Junior Guards participants in the summer.
The previously built section of the Westside Rail Trail, from Bay and California to Natural Bridges Drive, has been a huge success, with over 600 active transportation users per day as measured by an automated counter. It’s exciting to look forward to the whole length of Segment 7 being completed and enjoyed by people of all ages. The Segment 7/Phase II project grant is matched with Measure D tax funds, approved by over two-thirds of Santa Cruz County voters in 2016.
When the Segment 7/Phase II project is completed, there will be 2 miles of Coastal Rail Trail in Santa Cruz, from Natural Bridges Drive to Pacific Avenue, connecting over 30,000 residents who live within one mile of this segment of trail to schools, work, beaches, shopping and other activity centers.
The project is one of 20 Coastal Rail Trail segments that altogether will provide a 32-mile long separated bicycle/pedestrian path along the coast and is part of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network Master Plan.