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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sea Level Rise Planning. Prior 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.