Bicycle, pedestrian trail to link Santa Cruz, Monterey counties

Ramona Turner is on vacation this week but Street Smarts is not. This week's blog will feature guest articles on the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network, Watsonville's teens using transportation safety improvements as a means to improve the health of south county youth and reporting safety issues along bike and pedestrian paths. Today's offering comes from Cory Caletti, a Senior Transportation Planner and Bicycle Program Manager with the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission. The agency is responsible for delivering a full range of safe, convenient, reliable and efficient transportation choices for the community. Bicycle/pedestrian trails are coming to your neighborhood Have you been waiting for the “rail trail” or “coastal trail” project? There’s been much talk the past few years about new multi-use bicycle and pedestrian trails that can aide our community in getting around using non-motorized transportation means. Planning for such a trail network is now underway. The Regional Transportation Commission, the agency charged with planning and delivering transportation projects and programs to meet our community’s varied needs, is developing the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network. This project merges plans for a bicycle/pedestrian trail along the rail line, including coastal alignments and neighborhood spurs, into a connected network that will overlap and converge to provide safe and convenient route choices. The first set of public workshops will be focused on potential alignments. They are being planned for Tuesday, Dec. 13th at the Pacific Elementary School in Davenport, Wednesday, Dec. 14 at Simpkins Swim Center in Live Oak and Thursday, Dec. 15 at the Watsonville Civic Plaza. The public is invited to participate in identifying preferred routes, ideal connections to desirable neighborhood destinations and receive information regarding operational considerations. Other items that could be discussed include: coordinating space for bicycles and pedestrians traveling at different speeds and for different purposes, running freight or passenger rail service adjacent to a multi-use trail, coordinating a trail network with active farm lands, ensuring the protection of natural habitats and providing accessible environments for all user abilities. The workshops will include a presentation and break-out groups to review maps of preliminarily identified segments. The broad vision is for a trail network project that will span the coast of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary from the San Mateo/Santa Cruz County line to Pacific Grove, in Monterey County. The RTC is leading the planning effort for project development in Santa Cruz County and the Transportation Agency for Monterey County is responsible for Monterey County projects. This approach will ensure that the planned bicycle/pedestrian network will provide connectivity throughout the county and into the Monterey Bay region, as well as tie in to the larger California Coastal Trail project. The final product will be a Master Plan and environmental review document containing a prioritized list of short and long range trail projects that can be constructed by various entities as funding becomes available. Approximately $7 million of local and federal funds have already been secured for construction of initial segments. With greenhouse gas emission reduction goals in mind, the RTC is working to provide facilities that encourage bicycling and walking. Separated trails -- pathways away from motorized traffic -- meet the goal of providing facilities for travel options for all age ranges and all abilities. The proven benefits of such a trail network include reducing our reliance on automobile trips, channeling fuel savings into our economy, improving public health, and providing a greater appreciation of the natural environment. To receive e-news notifications regarding the trail network or other RTC programs and projects, email the RTC at info@sccrtc.org or go to www.sccrtc.org. Hwy 1 guardrail upgrades begin this week Caltrans contractor Frank Medina of Oroville will begin a $578,000 guardrail upgrade project Tuesday, Nov. 15. The 14-mile project spans from just north of 41st Avenue in Santa Cruz County to Trafton Road in Monterey County. It involves installing a metal beam guardrail, as well as making concrete barrier improvements. Work will take place overnight and cause alternating lane closures 9 p.m. To 6 a.m. Monday through Friday until March 2012. Caltrans reminds motorists to slow for the cone zone – it's the law. For information about this and other projects, call Caltrans District 5 at (831) 423-0396 or visit http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist05/road_information.htm.
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