The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) has proposed a 7.5-mile multi-use trail in northern Santa Cruz County. Known as the North Coast Rail Trail, the new trail project would extend along an existing rail corridor parallel to the coastline from Wilder Ranch State Park to Davenport. The trail is part of the larger 32-mile-long Rail Trail project that extends the length of Santa Cruz County and the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network Master Plan.
Harris worked with the RTC, along with the Federal Highway Administration’s Central Federal Lands Highway Division and other consultants, to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project. The team addressed key issues surrounding the project’s impact on agricultural, biological, and cultural resources. The EIR provided a robust, legally defensible analysis for the controversial project that through farmland and California Coastal Commission Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas.
Harris is responsible for project management and technical analyses for air quality, GHG emissions, noise, land use, recreation, and other environmental considerations.
The project itself will include a paved path with striping, unpaved shoulders, fencing, and parking improvements with trail connections at three locations.
Beyond the Blueprints
To address the concerns of those advocating for a trail without the rail, the EIR evaluated a trail-only alternative, which would remove the railroad tracks and develop the trail directly atop the railbed, at an equal level of detail.