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County celebrates rail line acquisition

Modified: Monday, Nov 19th, 2012

A 1950s-era General Motors/Electro-Motive Division F-9A diesel-electric engine rolls through the old depot on West Beach and Walker streets in Watsonville Saturday morning as part of the "Right on Track: Rail Corridor Ribbon Cutting" celebration. (Photos by Erik Chalhoub/Register-Pajaronian).

WATSONVILLE A downpour of morning rain was not going to dampen the county's celebration of the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line purchase Saturday, more than a decade in the making.

The "Right on Track: Rail Corridor Ribbon Cutting" celebration included whistle-stop ribbon cuttings at locations across the county, starting in Watsonville, and making its way to Aptos, Capitola, Live Oak and lastly, Santa Cruz, where the clouds cleared to make way for the highlight of day: A free, 30-minute train ride up and down the coast for residents.

"It's a historic day for Santa Cruz County," said California Assemblymember Luis Alejo.

On Oct. 12, the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission purchased the 32-mile rail line from Union Pacific for $14.2 million. Iowa Pacific Holdings will operate the line for freight and passenger services as the Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay Railway.

"Historians are going to look back on Oct. 12, 2012 as a major turning point," said local historian Sandy Lydon.

Most of the funding was secured by the RTC from Proposition 116 bond funds approved by both a majority of Californians and Santa Cruz County voters in 1990.

For the complete article see the 11-20-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-20-2012 paper.

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