January 25, 2012

RTC Brings Rail-With-Trail Expertise to Coastal California

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's (RTC) Western Regional Office has been watching with great interest the progression of plans for a rail-trail along Monterey Bay in the Central Coast of California.
So too have the people of Santa Cruz County, and the champagne corks were well and truly popping with the announcement recently that the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC) had closed the deal to acquire the right-of-way beside the 32-mile Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line.
This 135-year old transportation corridor parallels California State Route 1 from the town of Pajaro in Monterey County, to Davenport, linking major tourism and activity centers as it crosses the Pajaro River, Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor and the San Lorenzo River. In addition to providing non-motorized access to a number of state beaches, state parks, swim centers and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the proposed Santa Cruz Coastal Rail Trail would pass within one mile of more than half the county's population.
Now, trail advocates, such as the Santa Cruz County Friends of the Rail Trail, are anxious to see work begin on a multi-use trail alongside the active tracks. Enter RTC.
Utilizing our technical and planning experience with rail-with-trail projects, RTC staff met recently with the SCCRTC and a large group of regional officials, engineers, planners and community advocates to begin designing a Santa Cruz Coastal Rail Trail.
The line will continue to carry freight and recreational passenger services, so great emphasis will be placed on designing a trail that is safe for all users.
Entering this phase of rail-trail planning was the perfect opportunity for RTC to bring the Healthy Transportation Network's "Designing for Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety" Workshop to Santa Cruz to share the safety record of rail-with-trail projects, successful strategies for community stewardship of trails, and methods to avoid user conflict.
"A lot of rail lines in California are still in use for passenger and freight service, so we are seeing some really great rail-with-trail projects," says Steve Schweigerdt, manager of trail development for RTC's Western Regional Office. "Combining both a trail and an active train line makesincredibly efficient use of these corridors in our transportation system."
A project of the California Department of Public Health's California Active Communities program, the Healthy Transportation Network has been presenting this free workshop in communities across California for the past four years. They were able to bring the workshop to Santa Cruz thanks to help of local sponsors including the University of California at Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County Cycling Club, Spokesman Bicycles, Family Cycling Center, Ibis Bicycles, Traugott Guitars, Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz and Ecology Action.
Some more great news for the people of California came with the announcement this week that land has been acquired for the development of another mile of the city of San José's burgeoning trails network.
A remarkable multi-jurisdictional effort involving the city of San José, the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority (Open Space Authority) and the Parks and Recreation Department of Santa Clara County, the one-mile addition to the Three Creeks Trail will expand recreation and transportation options within the urban core, and create linkages between the Los Gatos Creek, Guadalupe River and Coyote Creek regional trails. It will also enable the continued growth in non-motorized commuting and errands that have been documented in annual San Jose trail counts since 2007.
Both of these projects are manifestations of a growing demand in California and across the country for healthier and more active options for getting from A to B.
"Growing active transportation mode share is critical to continued improvements in air quality, congestion mitigation,and health of California residents," Schweigerdt says. "Santa Cruz and San José are taking important steps in the right direction, and their residents and businesses will benefit."
Photo courtesy of Howard Cohen

January 24, 2012

Board Of Supervisors Meeting January 24 to decide the fate of the track in El Dorado County

These items are to be discussed and decided around 4:00 pm.  If you would like to call in and listen to the meeting the number is: (530) 621-6621
Please either support our license ratification in person or e-mail the Supervisors with a simple - "Please support the 5-year license for the P&SVRR" Vote yes to #38 and no to #39.

John Knight: bosone@edgov.us | 530 621 5650
Ray Nutting: bostwo@edcgov.us | 530 621 5651
Ron Briggs: bosfour@edcgov.us | 530 621 6513
Norma Santiago: bosfive@edcgov.us | 530 621 6577

Thank you for your support!!!

January 23, 2012

Mt Democrat
January 08, 2012 | Posted by Chris Daley
No. 10 Trails and/or rails?

TRAIN TRACKS, here located behind Walmart, will share the right of way with a hiking trail. Democrat photo by Pat Dollins

It was a bit of a banner year for the “rails/trails” issue. Advocates of one or the other or both turned out en masse on several occasions at the county supervisors chambers to pitch a particular perspective which often included one group and excluded another.  The board voted to adopt what became known as the Shingle Compromise or the Shingle Plan. That device grants seven or so miles between Missouri Flat Road in Diamond Springs and Shingle Springs to multi-use status, thus allowing train operations and trail activities within the Sacramento-Placerville Transportation Corridor. Prior to the Shingle Plan, rail use was technically limited to a couple of miles between Mother Lode Drive south of El Dorado and Missouri Flat.

By year’s end, the county had designated the 17 miles from Shingle Springs to the Sacramento County line as mixed use, including hiking, biking and equestrian. Rail use is proscribed, according to the board’s resolutions. Whether the county has the authority to dismantle rails, ties and train infrastructure as precursor to constructing a proposed Class I trail on that stretch of the right of way has not yet been resolved.  Early response from the Joint Powers Authority that administers the right of way indicated that El Dorado County does not have such authority, however, the county is looking into an appeal of that perspective.  The issue was last discussed at the Board’s Sept. 27 meeting wherein John Knight provided an update which included the JPA’s initial action and his letter asking that the decision be reconsidered.
As reported by the Mountain Democrat at that time, “the Shingle Plan Compromise enacted in March effectively ended the larger discussion of extending an excursion train capability from Shingle Springs to the county line. The newer issue for at least four of the five supervisors has moved on to determining what if any financial benefit can be realized by salvage and sale of  the rails and ties. As Knight’s letter suggests, proceeds would be used to fund further trail construction.”

As usual when rails and trails are on the agenda, the board room was packed that day with “trail people” and “train guys,” as the groups often refer to each other.  Knight, with some exasperation, told the audience that the matter at hand “was not to rediscuss the merits of rails versus trails, rather it was to inform the board of the JPA’s recent action.”  “This is not about whether or not to take out the rails,” Knight exclaimed. “Read my letter… The letter is out and we’re waiting for a response.”
Supervisor Jack Sweeney has remained adamant about keeping the Sacramento-Placerville Transportation Corridor’s railroad infrastructure in place pending results of exploring other alternatives for location of the trail.  “I believe there are alternatives for the trail that are cheaper and won’t require removal of the rails and ties,” Sweeney said. “People don’t want to go 10 miles to get on a trail, so it needs to be in an appropriate place. Don’t get rid of the bird in the hand.”  Sweeney’s mention of an “appropriate place” for the trail refers to the fact that, because of steep terrain, the railbed loops several miles south and east away from residential areas in the western part of the county.
Without a doubt, “rails and trails” are again likely to attract a good deal of attention from the public and from county government in 2012.
This story falls on page "A1"
Short URL: http://www.mtdemocrat.com/?p=124407

Posted by Chris Daley on Jan 8 2012. Filed under 2011's Top Stories, Diamond Springs, Placerville, Shingle Springs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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No. 10 Trails and/or rails? | Mountain Democrat | Programmer Solution
January 8, 2012 - 11:30 am
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Jim Harville
January 18, 2012 - 4:33 pm

It is good to see the railroad back in the paper again, but I must point out several glaring inaccuracies in the article above…
The article states that “Prior to the Shingle Plan, rail use was technically limited to a couple of miles…”. In reality, several thousand riders have enjoyed riding virtually ALL the rails in El Dorado County over the course of the last eighteen months, with full approval by the county. The two miles mentioned are simply the section previously approved for the development of the Railroad Park Demonstration Train, a joint venture between the County Museum and the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation. Rail use has not been “proscribed”, i.e. prohibited or forbidden, on ANY portion of the rail corridor.
The description of the March 28th, 2011 Board action is also largely in error. While it did state that the County’s “priority” between Shingle Springs and the county line was the development of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, it also called for staff to explore the “legality and feasability” of removing the rails, and to look at alternatives to rail removal. This process is ongoing, but is not looking real positive for proponents of the “Shingle Plan”.
As a strong supporter of a Rails WITH Trails program for the corridor, in which ALL parties win, I look forward to the Board of Supervisors taking up this issue again in the near future.
January 18, 2012 - 5:20 pm

How does one go about riding the trains? I agree that the railway should be multi-use,