San Lorenzo River Parkway Phase III/Trestle Trail Project


San Lorenzo River Railroad Trestle Bridge

City or County Responsible for Project

City of Santa Cruz


Bridge: Efficient and Sustainable Bridge Maintenance, Construction and Reconstruction Projects


Christophe Schneiter


City of Santa Cruz Public Works Department


809 Center St. #201 Santa Cruz CA 95060



Project Description

Before May 2019, Santa Cruz cyclists and pedestrians had only a 4-foot wide walkway to cross the Railroad Trestle Bridge—a core City pathway. Thanks to the completed San Lorenzo River Parkway Phase III/Trestle Trail Project, they now have a 10-foot wide ADA compliant “Trestle Trail” providing improved safety and convenience. It is increasing active transportation while supporting climate action. Other project attributes include bike-friendly railing, slip-resistant surface, low-level lighting, and extended width making it easier for cyclists to pass one another. The Trestle Trail was the historic first segment of the Coastal Rail Trail to be built and is thus part of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network Master Plan. As one of the Plan’s goals is to preserve rail transit options for the future, the Trestle Trail had to be cantilevered from the existing railroad trestle or a new bridge had to be built. A structural analysis determined that a new stand-alone bike/pedestrian bridge was not needed. Cantilevering the pathway from the existing bridge saved over $4 million compared to the conceptual 2013 Plan. Design challenges included developing a project that could be constructed without “touching” the water and without impacting water quality and environmental habitat. Fiber Reinforced Polymer decking was used as building material to eliminate the potential of concrete entering the water during construction and provide ease of assembly. Its light weight also minimized the load added to the existing trestle which was built in 1903. Fundraising and planning started with former U.S. Congressman Sam Farr’s Coastal Rail Trail vision. He secured $4.5 million dollars for the Santa Cruz County side of the system. Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency John Laird secured a grant for $550,000 for this first project. Transportation Development Act funds and Measure D tax dollars funded the remainder of the $2 million Trestle Trail cost. Representative Farr attended the project groundbreaking on January 10, 2019. He was honored along with Secretary Laird, Santa Cruz County Land Trust Executive Director Stephen Slade, and Santa Cruz County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty. Santa Cruz Mayor Martine Watkins’ groundbreaking speech underscored how the entire community—from local taxpayers through city, county and state agencies—played an essential role in constructing the Trestle Trail. The Trestle Trail softly opened on Friday, May 17, 2019, one week ahead of schedule and under budget. The official City ribbon-cutting occurred on Wednesday, May 22—marking a special National Public Works Week for the City with several hundred community members present. The community continues to express keen appreciation for the Trestle Trail and how it has improved quality of life. The Trestle Trail supports the City’s GO Santa Cruz initiative and Climate Action plan to expand active transportation facilities and reduce greenhouse gases by 30% over a 10-year period.