News & Reviews News Wire Santa Cruz commission approves full funding for rail study

Santa Cruz commission approves full funding for rail study

By Trains Staff | August 16, 2023

| Last updated on February 3, 2024

Report to define passenger project for 22-mile corridor to cost $9.2 million, take two years

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Logo of the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation CommissionSANTA CRUZ, Calif. — The transportation agency for Santa Cruz County has now fully funded a preliminary study of a much-debated rail transit plan for a former Southern Pacific branch line.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission has ordered the study, known as a project concept report, for its Zero Emission Passenger Rail and Trail Project. The $9.2 million report is expected to take about two years to complete.

The report will fully define the plan for passenger service on the 22-mile Santa Cruz Branch. The commission had previously set aside $3.8 million for the report and the state had awarded $3.45 million earlier this year [see “Santa Cruz, Monterey counties receive funding …,” Trains News Wire, April 28, 2023]. But when terms of a previous agreement with HDR Engineering [see “Santa Cruz commission votes for study …,” News Wire, Dec. 2, 2022] were renegotiated to meet the requirements of the state grant, funding was still $1.63 million short. The commission voted earlier this month to fill that gap with money from a 2016 ballot measure.

The rail project has strongly divided the community for a number of years, but proponents and opponents both support the report, the Sentinel reports.

“I believe it’s the only way we can get to the correct answers regarding the costs and other challenges associated with building and operating our passenger rail system as envisioned,” said Commissioner Bruce McPherson at the meeting earlier this month. “We must get to an accurate understanding of the feasibility.” Agreed Commission Chair Manu Koenig, who has questioned the project, “Whether you think rail is a great idea and we should move forward with all haste or you are skeptical of rail, this report is for you. At the end of the day, we’re going to have the best information possible, once this report is done.”

4 thoughts on “Santa Cruz commission approves full funding for rail study

  1. And here’s another instance of consultants getting rich off the taxpayers. What could they possibly deliver that is worth that much money. I have to wonder how anything in this country was built before they appeared on the scene.

  2. What is a “zero emissions” train?

    Construction vehicles and construction materials each create all sorts of emissions. Do steel and concrete just fall from an apple tree?

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