To: The Commissioners of the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC)
On May 6, 2021 the RTC Commissioners will once again be voting on the Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis and Rail Network Integration Study (TCAA/RNIS) Business plan.
That Business Plan deserves your approval.
Santa Cruz County has a traffic problem, a large traffic problem. Most residents and businesses in Santa Cruz County are concentrated in a long, narrow coastal plain between Watsonville at the south end and Santa Cruz at the north.
The principal arteries of transportation are two highways: Highways 1 and 17. Both are aging and designed for an era when Santa Cruz County was more rural. Both congest and clog daily.
Caltrans has widened parts of Highway 1 with almost no long-term benefit. And there’s little chance that the infamous “fishook” or the obsolete on/off ramps (such as Soquel near Dominican) will be remedied.
Today, even in the era of Covid-19 and work-at-home, there is a daily tide of commuter traffic. In the morning much of that tide flows north on Highway 1 from Watsonville to Santa Cruz. Much of that traffic continues over Highway 17 to Silicon Valley. In the evening that tide reverses. Long delays occur every day as thousands of automobiles stop, creep, and stop again.
We have a system of smaller roadways, such as Soquel Drive. But they are mere capillaries.
And yet, right in front of us is a golden resource – The “Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line” (SCBRL), an old rail line that runs from a junction with the Union Pacific (and future Caltrain) line in Watsonville, north through Santa Cruz and on to Davenport. These still functioning tracks run close to the Monterey Bay shoreline and roughly parallel to Highway 1.