New Project FAQ Page

A new Frequently Asked Questions page has been added to this project news and information blog. Look for the new “FAQ” tab located above. It can also be found here: eurekaarcatacorridor.wordpress.com/faq/

 

Project Manager Talks About Overpass and Trails

Today, Project Manager Richard Mullen appeared on the KHUM Happy Trails radio show and discussed the Eureka-Arcata Route 101 Corridor Improvement Project, the separate US Highway 101 corridor paving project between Eureka and Arcata, and the Humboldt Bay Trail project. To hear the radio interview, please visit: www.khum.com/2014/may/13/caltrans-and-101-projects-including-bay-trail/

Conditions for Project Coastal Consistency Outlined

Caltrans received a letter from the Coastal Commission on September 17 which outlined the conditions described during its September 12 meeting in Eureka. In a nine to one vote, the Commission conditionally concurred with the project consistency certification. In the letter, the Commission stated the “…project would not increase highway capacity and was an allowable use for wetland fill as an incidental public service, would not induce growth in a manner inconsistent with the Coastal Act, and, as conditioned, would be the least environmentally damaging feasible alternative and would minimize and provide mitigation for the project’s access, recreation, and visual impacts.”

Here is a list of conditions as presented in the letter to Caltrans:

  1. Coastal Trail Planning. Caltrans agrees that construction of the Route 101 Corridor Improvements will not commence until adequate commitments have been put in place to assure that a separated Class 1 bike and pedestrian trail, parallel to Route 101 between Arcata and the northern end of downtown Eureka, will occur.  Such commitments will include, but not be limited to, assurances that adequate funding for construction of the trail exists, as well as the necessary ownership interests or permissions to enable the trail to be allowed to proceed in a timely manner, prior to or concurrent with construction of the corridor improvements.
  2. Visual Impact Mitigation.  Prior to or concurrent with its submittal to the Commission of a coastal development permit application for the project Caltrans will develop and submit a plan to provide mitigation for the visual impacts of the project by removing, to the maximum extent feasible, all billboards along the corridor, as well as other overhead infrastructure (such as power poles and power lines), and by steepening the inside slopes of the interchange to maximize the view towards the bay from Indianola Cutoff.
  3. Wetland Mitigation.  Prior to or concurrent with its submittal to the Commission of a coastal development permit application for the project Caltrans will:  (1) expand the Samoa restoration concept to include true tidal restoration; (2) provide a biological analysis showing that adequate acreages and/or habitat mixes would, in fact, fully mitigate the project’s impacts; (3) submit and receive Commission approval of coastal development permits for the restoration activities at the two sites; and (4) follow up on Caltrans’ commitment to further substantiate the unavailability and infeasibility of non-agricultural sites in the Humboldt Bay area.
  4. Sea Level Rise PlanningPrior to or concurrent with its submittal to the Commission of a coastal development permit application for the project Caltrans will complete its “Climate Change Adaptation Pilot Strategy for Critically Vulnerable Assets in Northwest California,” and the project described in the permit application to be submitted to the Commission will reflect the findings and implications contained in that study, including any necessary redesign to incorporate appropriate sea level rise-related adaptation strategies.

“Caltrans thanks the California Coastal Commission for their ruling, and looks forward to working with project stakeholders to implement these safety improvements along Humboldt Bay on US Highway 101 between Eureka and Arcata,” said Project Manager Richard Mullen, who will be taking on the duties of former Project Manager Kim Floyd, who successfully steered the project for thirteen years.

Caltrans Reaction to Coastal Consistency Determination

Caltrans is really pleased that the Coastal Commission has found the Eureka-Arcata 101 Corridor Improvement Project to be consistent with the Coastal Act. We would like to thank everyone who attended the Commission meeting, and the many supporters of this vitally important safety improvement project. We are looking forward to working with all of the many stakeholders to design the best project for the entire community. Once we receive a copy of the written conditions from the Coastal Commission, we can chart the best path to completing this much-needed project.

COASTAL COMMISSION TO CONSIDER EUREKA-ARCATA 101 CORRIDOR IMPROVEMENT PROJECT

Caltrans will make a presentation to the California Coastal Commission on Thursday, September 12 at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka in support of Coastal Consistency for the proposed Eureka-Arcata 101 Corridor Improvement Project. The public is encouraged to attend and comment on this long term safety and operational improvement project for this vital transportation corridor.

As a condition of Coastal Consistency, Caltrans has agreed that project construction will not begin before funding is secured for a bay trail project. This funding will include $1 million from Caltrans. The Humboldt County Association of Governments (HCAOG) is also seeking to secure funding for the bay trail project.

The proposed project’s improvements include a half-signal at Airport Road, a grade separation at Indianola Road, as well as closing median openings to improve safety and reduce delays in the corridor. Caltrans has received concurrence from the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

 

What: California Coastal Commission Meeting

When: Thursday, September 12. Sessions begin at 8:30 a.m.

(The Eureka-Arcata Corridor project is the twelfth item on the agenda.)

Where: Wharfinger Building, 1 Marina Way in Eureka.

Meeting Agenda: For the Eureka Coastal Commission meeting agenda please visit: www.coastal.ca.gov/mtgcurr.html

Proposed Improvements at Indianola Cutoff Presented Before the Arcata City Council

Indianola Simulation 8Indianola Simulation 6Indianola Simulation 3

Yesterday, August 21, photo simulations of the proposed grade separation at Indianola Cutoff were presented before the Arcata City Council. These simulations include views of the intersection of US Route 101 at Indianola Cutoff both before and after the project, as well as views after the project with a bay trail. To learn more about bicycle and pedestrian options for the project, please see this previous post. To see the complete set of Indianola Cutoff simulations as presented before the Arcata City Council, please follow this link (PDF, 1.6MB).

(Updated) Bicycle and Pedestrian Access and the Eureka-Arcata Corridor Improvement Project

Bike-improvements-cross-section

A drawing showing the Route 101 typical cross section with bicycle improvements for the Eureka-Arcata Corridor Improvement Project from Airport Road to Mid-City.

Updates – The following are new developments since this project blog entry was first posted:

As a condition of Coastal Consistency, Caltrans has agreed that construction of the Eureka-Arcata Corridor Improvement Project will not begin before funding is secured for a bay trail project. This funding will include $1 million from Caltrans. The Humboldt County Association of Governments, or HCAOG, is also seeking to secure funding for the bay trail project. The proposed project includes the replacement of the Jacoby Creek Bridge with a new bridge that would include a separated pedestrian and bike facility on the western side.

Caltrans’ current proposed mitigation plan is expected to provide mitigation credits beyond what is needed for the Eureka-Arcata Corridor Project.  It is expected that these additional mitigation credits will be used to offset any wetland impacts associated with constructing a bay trail.

Caltrans staff is assisting the City of Arcata with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) clearance on the current phase of their Rail with Trail project.

The needs of both bicyclists and pedestrians have been a consideration for Caltrans since the beginning of the Route 101 Eureka-Arcata Corridor Improvement project. Although a separate bicycle and pedestrian trail between Eureka and Arcata is not formally included in the project, the left lane widths of Route 101 will be reduced in width from 12 feet to 11 feet as a traffic calming measure, and right shoulders will be widened from eight feet to ten feet in order to provide additional room for bicyclists as well as additional clearance from vehicular traffic. Also, a brick-red color will be added to the asphalt shoulder pavement to further visually distinguish the shoulders and help with traffic calming between Eureka and Arcata. Please see the following questions and answers to learn more about what Caltrans proposes for bay trail bicycle and pedestrian access. For example, Caltrans has formally agreed to contribute up to one million dollars for Humboldt Bay trail construction in working with local governments and other public agencies.

How does this project address bicycle and pedestrian access?

The proposed project includes the following features to enhance non-motorized transit between Eureka and Arcata:

  • The construction of a grade separation (interchange) at Indianola Cutoff, approximately midway between Eureka and Arcata, will provide safe crossing access on Route 101 for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.  A new interchange would become particularly important to provide a safe connection between any future trail along the west side of Route 101 adjacent to local roads, homes, and businesses.
  • The project proposes to close or modify all at grade intersections in the Eureka-Arcata Corridor, which would eliminate uncontrolled vehicle crossing and left turn moves at the six Route 101 median openings. Consequently, bicyclist safety would be substantially improved.
  • The proposed project also includes replacing the southbound Route 101 Jacoby Creek Bridge with a wider bridge that would include bicycle railing installed on the outside barrier and an eight-foot wide separated area for bicyclists and pedestrians similar to the one installed at the new northbound Route 101 Mad River Bridge near McKinleyville. The proposed wider bridge would be a critical link for the City of Arcata’s trail planned from Arcata to Bracut.  The Route 101 corridor improvements made by this project will preserve future trail and railroad use options for the local community.

Caltrans is working with other public agencies and local governments on a bay trail and has formally agreed to contribute up to one million dollars for bay trail construction.

What about a separated trail for bicyclists and pedestrians?

There is strong public support for a rail with trail project between Eureka and Arcata.  The primary purpose of the Eureka-Arcata Route 101 Corridor Improvement Project is to reduce collisions at intersections.  For the following reasons the construction of a trail for non-motorized traffic would need to be a separate project:

  • There are already local and regional efforts underway for developing a rail with trail project adjacent to the railroad tracks.  If a trail were to be constructed within the Caltrans right-of-way as part of the Eureka-Arcata Route 101 Corridor Improvement project, it may undermine funding for the community-supported rail with trail. A second trail would be perceived as redundant and unnecessary.
  • The bed that supports the railroad tracks (known as a railroad prism) between Eureka and Arcata is owned and operated by the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA), which was formed by the California Legislature and has a mission to ensure continuation of railroad service in Northwestern California.
  • There is not enough width for a barrier-separated (Class I) bicycle/pedestrian path directly on either side of the highway. Route 101 is adjacent to Humboldt Bay wetlands, wildlife preserves and refuges, and the railroad.  The cost and wetland impacts of widening beyond what is needed for the roadway for six miles would not be feasible to provide a separate path for non-motorized transit next to the highway. The permanent wetland impact of the barrier-separated trail is estimated to add an additional 7.4 acres to the project.
  • The Eureka-Arcata Corridor Improvement project was designed to facilitate connections with any future bicycle, pedestrian, and railroad transit opportunities. In fact, the project would be compatible and provide safer access to any future bay trail located west of Route 101.  A paved trail connecting the proposed interchange at Indianola to any future bay trail could be constructed as a future project.

For more technical information regarding a Class I bikeways, please see the California Streets and Highways Code and the Caltrans Highway Design Manual, Chapter 1000).

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