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Guest Commentary | Train service not a realistic transportation solution for county – Santa Cruz Sentinel

Guest Commentary | Train service not a realistic transportation solution for county – Santa Cruz Sentinel 2020-10-15Leave a comment

electrical bike Visitor Commentary | Practice service not a sensible transportation resolution for county – Santa Cruz Sentinel

By Craig Wilson

A rail path is the conversion of an unused railway observe right into a multi-use path, sometimes for strolling and biking. In 2012 the Regional Transportation Fee (RTC) bought the 32-mile rail hall that runs between Watsonville and Davenport for $11 million. That was an awesome deal! On the time of the acquisition, no person actually knew what was attainable, however there was actual pleasure in regards to the promise of a path the place folks might stroll and bike safely, much like the 18-mile Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Path, which incorporates sections of an outdated railroad line.

Within the eight years because the hall was acquired, I reviewed the numerous research, attended public conferences, accomplished surveys and listened to what everybody needed to say. Now that extra is understood, myself and hundreds of different involved locals notice that practice service will not be proper for our county, not less than within the foreseeable future. Research after research has revealed apparent downsides to constructing a practice system in our county, however a slim majority of RTC commissioners insist on pursuing rail service within the hall. These are a number of the causes a practice will not be practical:

• Santa Cruz County’s inhabitants is simply too small to assist passenger/commuter practice service. Freeway 1 is congested largely as a result of folks all through our area use it to get to their jobs within the larger Bay Space. However the proposed practice is not going to go there, so it is not going to considerably scale back freeway visitors.

• There’s inadequate trade to assist freight service. In reality, the operator chosen to supply service just lately terminated its contract to take action and former operators did the identical.

• The rails, rail ties and trestles are in poor situation and must get replaced to assist trendy rail service.

• All street crossings require main security upgrades. Motorists, pedestrians and cyclists would wait at crossings in the course of the continuously scheduled trains that passenger service requires, creating extra visitors congestion and air pollution.

• A passenger practice requires shopping for property to construct a number of practice stations to board and exit passengers, in addition to adjoining parking tons at some stations, none of which is funded, nor have the damaging environmental impacts been thought of.

• The hall is just vast sufficient for one practice and has a single set of tracks. Passing loops must be constructed to permit trains transferring in reverse instructions to go.

• Many sections of the hall are usually not vast sufficient to accommodate the present single-track and a path, requiring encroachments on current houses and companies, eradicating timber, lowering wildlife habitat and alluring lawsuits.

• In the previous couple of years, there was explosive progress in private energetic transportation ­— comparable to bicycles, electrical bikes, scooters and boards — demonstrating its viability as a critical transportation various. In distinction, the pandemic has led folks away from enclosed techniques, comparable to subways and buses.

Constructing a contemporary practice system can be one of the costly public initiatives within the historical past of our county, but no person can say how a lot it’s going to value, how lengthy it’s going to take, or who can pay for it. Affordable estimates put the associated fee at a billion {dollars} or extra with a mission timeline measured in many years. You already know who can pay for it — we’ll — and and not using a vote.

We should always drop plans to construct a practice as a result of it’s not an efficient resolution to our transportation issues, however we are able to apply the authorized mechanism of rail-banking to protect rail as a future choice whether it is wanted. It’s not too late for us to make sensible and practical choices about our hall.

Craig Wilson is resident of Soquel and could also be reached at crwilson1225@gmail.com.

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