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Transforming an historic railway to a modern multi-use trail

Santa Paula Branch line is transforming to include a multi-use trail
City of Ventura
Santa Paula Branch line is transforming to include a multi-use trail

A $27 million project to create a walking and biking trail along the Santa Paula Branch line.

It played a pivotal role in Ventura County’s industrial heritage, linking Santa Paula’s agricultural hub to busy urban centers, and the Santa Paula branch line is nearly 140 years old. Now, it’s going to be transformed into a multi-use trailfor cyclists and pedestrians, emerging at Ventura East Metrolink.

"The rail operations on it are low speed. They are currently doing some freight operations. They do some excursion trains, rail bike activities. They do filming also - a lot of movies have been filmed in the Santa Paul and Fillmore area. A lot of exciting things happening along the line," explained Martin Erickson Executive Director of Ventura County Transportation Commission.

He says the new 4 mile part of the trail is exciting for the area.

"This will be kind of the crown jewel of the the recreation trail along the lines," said Erickson.

"We we'll be starting our path just to the east of the current Metrolink station and their maintenance yard. You know, we'll have some amenities here and it's going to look great. It'll connect East Ventura Metrolink station in the Montalvo area of Ventura to the Santa Paul area. Hopefully the idea is to try and take it as far as the depot, but we're still in the design process, so all those details haven't necessarily been figured out," explained Alejandro Puga, Senior Civil Engineer with the City of Ventura. He says the trail will also have amenities like bike repair stations, ADA compliant ramps and rest facilities and attract both leisure users and commuters.

Derek Towers, the active transportation specialist from the City of Ventura says that the $27 million project addresses gaps and deficiencies in Ventura’s active transportation network.

"What we heard from the community was that they wanted more trails in the city. That was their preferred biking and walking infrastructure. So the fact that it comes from the community is probably one of the highest priorities," said Towers.

He said the safety of users of the trail is a priority in their planning efforts.

"We are going to be putting in lighting through the whole corridor. We're also going to be doing some form of closed caption cameras. Safety is definitely an element that is constantly in our conversations for this trail, because we want everyone to feel safe when they get out there and make use of it."

A community workshop will be hosted virtually on Wednesday, May 15, from 5:30 p.m.–7:00 p.m. Spanish interpretation will not be offered. Registrationis necessary to receive the meeting link. 

A second in-person meeting will be held on Thursday, May 23, from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at the Jose Flores Community Center (11168 Violeta St, Ventura, CA 93004). Spanish interpretation will be offered.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 10 Golden Mike Awards, 5 Los Angeles Press Club Awards, 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards and a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Writing.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for eleven years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.