Coastal Rail Trail Update

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Grace Voss

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.

Credit Nathan Nguyen, City of Santa Cruz

“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.

North Coast Trail Update

Due to cost overruns on other federal projects, the Central Federal Lands (CFL) has delayed funding for Segment 5 of the North Coast Rail Trail (Davenport to Wilder Ranch) until 2024. While a delay is very disappointing, we appreciate that the CFL is committed to making this project happen and to completing all of the pre-construction work so that this segment will be shovel-ready by the middle of 2021 if grants become available.

History

The idea for a rail trail extending 31 miles from Davenport to Watsonville began in the 1980’s, and the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) purchased rights to the Union Pacific rail line in 2011. Measure D, a half cent sales tax measure passed by voters in 2016, provides local matching funds that allow us to get state and federal grants for construction of the Coastal Rail Trail.

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