Santa Cruz rail offers a dig once chance for broadband

by Steve Blum • ,

Another broadband opportunity in Santa Cruz is opening up. The county Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) is offering the use of its 32-mile railroad right of way to interested utility companies, including broadband and telecommunications service providers.

The route runs more or less near the coastline along the length of the county, from Watsonville to Davenport, going through the cities of Capitola and Santa Cruz. About half the population of Santa Cruz County lives within a mile of the right of way. Work is planned on a few segments of the line, particularly in the cities of Santa Cruz and Watsonville, and up coast towards Davenport, as a recreational trail is developed…

The RTC is interested in leasing this right of way to utility companies and municipal districts whose use would be compatible with the planned uses of this right of way.

Currently, the rail line is being used for recreational and freight rail service and in the future may be used for passenger rail service. The rail trail portion of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail is planned to be built along the length of the rail line corridor. There are a few segments of the rail trail that will be constructed over the next few years. These sections are indicated on the attached map. The RTC intends to follow a “dig once” policy before the paved trail is built next to the tracks. Once the trail is built, the cost of adding underground utilities will rise considerably.

If you’re interested, you can contact the Santa Cruz County RTC directly. The idea of using the rail right of way for broadband was first floated a couple of years ago at the Civinomicon conference in Santa Cruz.