DO YOUR JOB
RTC Commissioners: You were appointed—not elected—as regional commissioners of California transportation policy to administer state funding to implement that public policy. In your RTC roles, your duties are to serve as trustees of the ways and means of developing better public transportation, not as local politicos buffeted by the winds of parochial interests.
You have one job: administer public funding to improve our public highways and transportation systems, and plan for and carry out that work. No more, no less.
The California Transportation Commission bought us a functioning railroad, 32 miles long, connecting with the intrastate mainline at Pájaro. This strategic asset was acquired for the RTC to maintain, improve and develop for public railroad purposes.
We commend your staff’s planning for a paved rail trail for pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair users, hand-cyclists and others alongside the tracks as an ancillary part of our railroad infrastructure. That makes perfectly good sense—it’s an adjunct way for all people to access the planned electric passenger rail vehicles, and it can be used for local personal walking, biking, adaptive cycling and more. We’re already enjoying the two completed rail trail segments. Thank you!
However, we cannot emphasize too strongly: The only legitimate priority use for the Santa Cruz Branch railroad corridor is for purposes of a public railroad—rail trail included. And if some further right of way acquisition is necessary to augment the rail trail, then so be it. It is your staff’s responsibility to plan for that, prepare for it, and fund it. We expect our RTC commissioners to support that work. Let’s get the job done.
No matter how much money the adversaries of the public trust put into their misguided campaign pressuring the RTC to tear out the tracks and build a “linear park” there instead, we urge you: Do not be deterred. No matter how much the anti-rail Greenway ballot initiative may attract political capital, you must not be influenced by it. You serve a greater purpose, and we support you in that.
Counter-productive planning for a so-called “interim trail” replacing the rails is not a responsible option. The “interim” would be interminable. That unreasonable alternative would vitiate the RTC’s public railroad purpose entirely. Among other harms, it would preclude our firefighters’ desired ability to respond to wildfires by use of the public railroad, according to officials from six local fire protection districts.
We know that doing what needs to be done isn’t easy! But we also know, and we hope you know, that where there’s a will, there’s a way.
We believe that funding to rebuild the railroad bridges is surely available if we apply for it and pursue it diligently. We need to be aiming for a well-functioning public railroad.
Please, do your job. Our grandchildren will thank you.
Ad Hoc Committee for Public Integrity, names at nowaygreenway.com/endorsements
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