.Letter to the Editor: Do Your Job

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!

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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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4 COMMENTS

  1. I believe they are doing there job and quite well now. Sorry you are not agreeing with their work and trying to bully them through social media because things are not going your way and the general public are finally getting a chance to weigh in after 9 years of control by special interest trying to keep it out of the hands of the voting public of what they want.

  2. We are past the point of negative returns on investing in roads. Bigger roads make for bigger traffic jams.

    We’re past limits of what cars can actually do in service. You can have a road rocket like a Corvette, but it won’t get you to work (or anywhere else) faster than a 1957 VW Bug. Either you’ll get stuck in traffic with everybody else, or if you do find an open stretch and try to drive with some of such a car’s potential, you’ll get unwelcome attention from the Highway Patrol.

    And now we are in the fourth oil price shock of the last 50 years. . .Arab-OPEC embargo of 1973, second Arab-OPEC embargo of 1979, oil price runup in 2007 (I’m still not sure where that came from), and now the record gas prices of 2022 due to war fears involving Ukraine and Russia.

    When are we going to admit that the American way of life is now the American security vulnerability? When are we going to grow up a little bit and say we’ve overdone cars, and go back to the future–by rail? When are we going to face that the days of “Happy Motoring” and Dinah Shore singing “See the USA in your Chevrolet” are as dead as the days of–steam locomotives?

    When?

  3. You all know that once rails are removed, the prohibitive cost of replacing them means no rail ever. Big mistake, given that Caltrans and the feds know that We need alternatives to more automobile infrastructure. And what about that trail? If the current rail with trail plan is scrapped that means new planning, permits designs, etc. will delay the trail another ten years. Why will greenway not tell Us that, seeing that Their pretense is pro-trail? Better to spend the 50 million to upgrade the rail, than to spend 50 mil. per mile on the asphalt highway one parking lot.

  4. We hope the public will hear the speeches by 4 California public officials, three of whom were involved in ensuring that we received the money to BUY the Santa Cruz Branchline. These officials spoke recently to the public and what they said is, 1-The County of Santa Cruz (i.e. the RTC on behalf of the public) made a promise to build BOTH rail and trail. That is why we were give the money. 2- Measure D is Deceptive, there is plenty of money available to build the rail, 3-Railbanking means NO RAIL AGAIN on our rail line. Quite a surprise to not see the Sentinel reporters at this auspicious event. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DScVQMIoIa8&ab_channel=EquityTransit

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