Coastal Rail Trail Update

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brought to you by Grace Voss and the Santa Cruz County Cycling Club

Construction is well underway on two separate segments of the Coastal Rail Trail in Santa Cruz and Watsonville!

On the Westside of Santa Cruz, Phase 1 of Segment 7 from Natural Bridges Drive to Bay Street is “under construction and progressing well” according to city engineer Chris Schneiter. “An excellent rapport has developed between Graniterock Construction and the public,” says Schneiter. “Several sections of the trail have been paved, along with completion of access ramps and sidewalks. The railroad-side railing is being installed along parts of the trail. The foundation work on the Almar Retaining Wall and the small bridge between Swift and Natural Bridges, both critical items, has started. Work at New Leaf Market has also started, with some of the trail paved and reconstruction of the refuse/recycling building. Three trees have been saved and will be replanted along Fair Avenue.

“Installation of the permanent fence railing between the rail and the trail has begun at Bay Street. The posts are made of weathered steel to match the railroad theme, and they have a smooth wire cable to maintain sight lines, provide an open, spacious feel on the trail, and allow wildlife access.

Early Challenges

“We had early on challenges with very poor soil conditions. However, we came up with an excellent solution to re–use the asphalt grindings from the Water and River Street paving projects (cold-in-place recycling) as base rock in areas that required over excavation to significantly reduce the change order costs. “The current schedule is to complete this segment by the end of September.

Watsonville Segment 18 Progress

Construction on the Watsonville segment has also started, with a completion date set for October, according to Murray Fontes, chief engineer. Fontes says the segment will be a “wonderful addition to the city’s 10+ mile–network of pedestrian and bike trails.


The idea for a rail trail extending 31 miles from Davenport to Watsonville began in the 1980’s, and the rights to the Union Pacific rail line were purchased by the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) in 2011. The rail trail is funded by Measure D, a half cent sales tax measure passed by voters in 2016.


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