The question of whether to develop a passenger rail system along the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line has been explored, questioned, developed, studied, contested and voted on across an arc of nearly four decades. Santa Cruz county stands before two important inflection points related to this project. One is an imminent Regional Transportation Commission in-depth study to explore the engineering and environmental realities of delivering a light-rail system to our region; The other is a critical election coming up March 5 for three open District Supervisor seats. Those who claim these posts will be in powerful positions relative to the rail question.
I am Christine Barrington and a regular talk show host at KSQD. If you are anything like me, you have likely felt confused and perhaps befuddled by the complication and contentiousness of the Rail and Trail. And, what is this project, really? Is it Rail? Is it a Trail. Both? Neither? What?!! Given the dire state of traffic in our region, and the deep concern I feel around climate issues, I set out to clarify my own confusion and document my journey to understand. Along the way I discovered that projects of this scale and complexity are epic, with champions and challengers, visionaries and volunteers, policy makers and politicians–and so many studies and story lines it makes the head spin.
What I also discovered is that, ultimately, the story of the Rail and Trail is about people–people who vote, people who plan, and people who politic. I met some incredible people in my quest to grasp the arc of the Rail and Trail possibility, and I hope you enjoy the journey with me.
In this initial episode we go back in time to capture the first glimpses of the vision for the Rail-Trail. Featured Guests: Congressman Sam Farr, Former Regional Transportation Executive Director (1985-2005) Linda Wilshusen, John Brissenden, Co-Founder of Land Trust Santa Cruz, the Community Foundation, as well as Life Lab, and Micah Posner, former Executive Director of People Power, and co-founder of Friends of the Rail and Trail.
For a history of rail in Santa Cruz please enjoy this excellent show from KSQD’s Len Beyea: Derek Whaley shares the history of train routes through the Santa Cruz mountains and how they changed the destiny of this region