Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility RTC Receives $3.45 Million in State Funding for Zero Emission Passenger Rail & Trail Project - SCCRTC

RTC Receives $3.45 Million in State Funding for Zero Emission Passenger Rail & Trail Project

The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) was awarded $3.45 million in funding from the California State Transportation Agency’s (CalSTA) Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program for the RTC’s Zero Emission Passenger Rail and Trail Project.

The grant award will fully fund the Project Concept Report which will refine the locally preferred alternative from earlier planning work and provide a stable project definition that would then proceed through full environmental review, pending additional funding. The Concept Report will involve extensive community outreach during the development of performance metrics and system planning with early engineering and ridership projections.

Once environmentally cleared, the Commission would likely seek full funding for zero-emission passenger rail service on 22 miles of the RTC-owned Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line, from Pajaro Junction to Natural Bridges, as well as the remaining sections the Coastal Rail Trail, within the project limits.

“This project plans to convert the underutilized branch line into a multimodal corridor, transforming the way people travel to and within Santa Cruz County,” said RTC Executive Director Guy Preston. “Zero emission passenger rail offers a carbon-free alternative to highly congested Highway 1 for commuters, students, and visitors. The trail will provide an additional sustainable travel mode with first- and last-mile connections to proposed rail stations.”

The RTC will begin work on the Project Concept Report in 2023 and it is expected to be completed in 2025. Upon completion of the Project Concept Report, the project will continue on with additional engineering, environmental studies, and initial right-of-way services to complete an Environmental Impact report.

CalSTA awarded $690 million in total to 28 transit projects across the state through its Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program. The Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) received $2.274 million to advance the environmental phase of its Pajaro/Watsonville Multimodal Station Project, which is an important connection to the State Rail network for the Santa Cruz Zero Emission Passenger Rail Project.  The Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District (METRO) received $38.6 million to purchase 24 zero-emission hydrogen buses to expand service frequencies on Highways 1 and 17, to implement rapid bus enhancements along the Soquel Drive/Main Street corridor, and to redevelop METRO’s Watsonville Transit Center and Pacific Station in downtown Santa Cruz to include mixed-use and 180 affordable housing units. The recent success and advancement of the RTC’s Highway 1 program, which includes a dedicated bus lane with its bus-on-shoulder improvements, was a key factor in METRO’s competitiveness by reducing bus transit travel times and increasing reliability. Transit Improvements on Soquel Drive, led by the County Department of Public Works, was also helpful in demonstrating future reliability with reduced travel times for bust transit users.

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