North Coast Rail Trail Project moves forward but not without controversy

North Coast Rail Trail project in...

SANTA CRUZ, Calif - Daniel Rola is an avid bicycle rider.  

"I probably bike through here at least two or three times a week," Rola said.

He would ride 20 miles at a time between Wilder Ranch and Capitola, but Rola was a little hesitant to go north. 

"I've tried a couple of times but I'm really just apprehensive about going up Highway 1 just because of the traffic and the possibility of traffic collisions," Rola said.

That's the only way for bikers at the moment, but the North Coast Rail Trail Project could change that. The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission is the lead agency on that stretch. The RTC is working on a draft environmental report before the construction can break ground. 

The plan is to have the trail next to the rail on the coastal side, going from Wilder Ranch to Davenport. 

But the plan is not set in stone. 

"That might change through the notice of preparation and feedback we are going to get from the public," said Cory Caletti, with RTC. 

Farmers on the north coast are already voicing concerns. Brian Peoples has been working with some of them.

"A lot of the proposed trail goes through infrastructure, pipes, electrical that they utilize for their operations. It will cost them millions of dollars to relocate that equipment," Peoples said

"We have met with the farmers on a number of occasions. They've provided feedback to the design team and we have done as much as we can to take their comments into consideration," Caletti said.

The RTC will be hosting public hearings on Sept. 27 and 28. Some farmers said they will be attending and suggesting an alternative plan -- moving a portion of the trail closer to Highway 1 and away from their farms.

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