Promoted content

Santa Cruz County’s chance to follow nationwide adoption of greenways is now

Presented by YES Greenway
greenway 1
Bike ride at the California Trails and Greenways Conference 2017, Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail.
(YES Greenway)


Finally, after decades of debate about the future of the rail corridor in Santa Cruz County, the voice of the people will be heard. With a YES vote on Measure D on June 7th, Santa Cruz County’s 32-mile unused rail corridor would join the ranks of the most stunning greenways in the nation.

Across the United States, 24,000 miles of unused railroads have been converted to greenways, with another 8,000 miles in progress. The creation of these stunning trail networks is largely due to the establishment of railbanking in 1983 as an amendment to the National Trails System Act. Railbanking avoids the abandonment of rail corridors, preserving them for future use by trains, maintaining their continuity, and enabling them to be turned into greenway trails that can be enjoyed by communities now. The explosion of greenways nationwide has resulted in a burgeoning recognition of the value of outdoor recreation and active transportation and the ways it can improve the quality of life for communities throughout the country.

“True greenways are more than just bike lanes: ideally, they’re a multi-use amenity that combines transportation and green space, uplifting the communities around them even as they provide a way to get around,” according to a recent article. Examples of greenways across the nation abound: such as the famed New York City High Line, bringing traffic-free access, art, and a sense of social cohesion to west Manhattan; or the East Coast Greenway, covering 3,000 miles from Florida to Maine; or the planned Great Redwood Trail, that will connect Sonoma, Marin and Mendocino to Humboldt County and will replace the railroad coal cars running through the spectacularly beautiful yet environmentally fragile Eel River Canyon.

“Greenways connect commercial corridors. They’re green infrastructure — not just because of the green space, but they also get people out of cars.”

— Terri Carta, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (Source: Bloomberg)

(YES Greenway)

Santa Cruz County has a nationally recognized converted rail line right in our neighboring county: the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, which spans 18 miles of coastline from Pacific Grove to Castroville and was previously a Southern Pacific Rail Line. Monterey’s inspirational trail attracts hundreds of thousands of users every year, and 70% of respondents from a recent survey of city residents stated they use the trail at least once a week, according to the City of Monterey.

“It makes us feel connected to our community and the natural beauty. It reminds us of why we live here and why we love it.”

— Kim Bui Burton, Former Community Services Director for the City of Monterey

The biggest problem with the trail is that it is too narrow for the many users, with the City of Monterey looking at plans to widen sections! At present, many Santa Cruz County residents put their bikes on their cars and travel to the Monterey trail to find a safe, traffic-free place to ride their bikes, enjoy the coastline and link to the Fort Ord trails. Yet if a Santa Cruz Cruz County Greenway were to be built, residents would have access to such a trail running right through the heart of our county, eliminating the need to take a car-trip to Monterey.


“Locally, investing in greenways pays dividends,” says Dennis Markatos-Soriano, executive director of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, citing economic impact studies the Alliance has conducted up and down the corridor. “The nearly 70 miles of greenway in North Carolina’s Triangle region, for example, generates more than $90 million in economic benefits every year, according to an Alliance report.” This type of clear and achievable economic benefit to the community is part of the reason why the Santa Cruz County Business Council endorses Measure D and the Santa Cruz County Greenway Initiative.

(Getty Images)

A study done in 2016 estimated the Santa Cruz County Greenway would have 2.2 million users per year – and this was prior to the explosive popularity of bicycles and e-bikes during the pandemic, which would only serve to increase that number. As an extraordinarily beautiful walking and biking corridor, the Santa Cruz County Greenway would connect our neighborhoods to local shopping districts and schools, allowing free transportation from one end of our county to the other. Most cities can only dream of having such a five-star greenway, but Santa Cruz County can actually achieve it!

It’s time for Santa Cruz County to join Monterey, and communities all across the world, and build the Santa Cruz County Greenway now. Vote YES on Measure D!

  • Vote YES on Measure D!
    Please consider making a donation to the YES Greenway campaign, and spreading the word to vote YES to advance Measure D, the doable and funded plan for Santa Cruz County’s rail corridor.

(YES Greenway)