Humboldt Baykeeper has been following Caltrans' Eureka-Arcata 101 Corridor Safety Improvement Project since 2007, when the Draft Environmental Impact Report was released. Caltrans proposes to improve safety along this 8-mile stretch of highway adjacent to the Humboldt Bay shoreline between Arcata and Eureka.

On Wed. Aug. 7 at 11 a.m., the California Coastal Commission will meet at the Wharfinger Building at 1 Marina Way in Eureka to consider the Coastal Development Permit for the Eureka-Arcata Highway 101 Corridor Project, which includes an interchange at Indianola Cutoff, a left-turn signal at Airport Drive, and closure of all other medians. 

Humboldt Baykeeper and the Surfrider Foundation submitted comments to the Coastal Commission last Friday. Our top concern is the lack of sea level rise planning, which is critical for this stretch of U.S. Route 101. According to local experts, significant portions of the highway corridor will be flooded on a monthly basis with 1.6 feet of sea level rise, which could occur by 2040. It is also in the 100-year flood zone, tsunami hazard area, and an area of potential soil liquefaction. See our major concerns below:

The “Eureka-Arcata Route 101 Corridor Improvement Project” is on track for a local hearing in August, despite CalTrans’ insistence that it must be held in June in San Diego. At its May hearing in Oxnard, the Coastal Commission unanimously recommended a two-month delay to allow for local input on this massive highway project adjacent to Humboldt Bay. Caltrans had insisted that the project’s funding would be at risk if the hearing was delayed just two months, but has since admitted that the timeline can be moved forward.


The California Coastal Commission requested this morning that its staff shelve plans to hold a June hearing on Caltrans’ proposed plans to overhaul the Safety Corridor on U.S. Highway 101 between Eureka and Arcata and, instead, to agendize the hearing for the commission’s August meeting in Eureka.


Surfrider Foundation California Policy Manager Jennifer Savage also addressed the commission during its public comment period.

Savage said the project — which seeks to spend roughly $35 million to build a new interchange at Indianola Road, replace the Jacoby Creek Bridge, add a stoplight at Airport Road and close all other medians on the roughly 7-mile stretch of highway — is complex and decades in the making.


“Our community really deserves a chance to weigh in,” Savage said, before charging that Caltrans’ plans have so far failed to analyze the impacts construction will cause to alternate routes, like Old Arcata Road and State Route 255 through the Samoa Peninsula.

Savage also criticized the project’s review for not addressing projected sea level rise, and charged that Caltrans’ public engagement efforts have been inadequate.


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After a meeting in Eureka hosted by Caltrans Tuesday night, one Humboldt County resident was concerned there isn't enough information about a proposed $35 million project to make safety improvements on the corridor at the Indianola Cutoff to go forward. 


"So, Caltrans is taking questions and answering them verbally, but it's not a valuable public comment session," said Jennifer Kalt, a resident within Humboldt County who says she was frustrated after attending the public input meeting Tuesday. "Caltrans's projects would go a lot smoother if they would get serious about taking public input," Kalt said.


"There are significant safety improvements needed in the corridor," said Jeffrey Pimentel, the project manager for Caltrans. He says the Indianola Cutoff sees a high rate of accidents. The cost of the project is $35 million, money Pimentel says is needed to protect those who drive through the area daily. 


Caltrans expects to meet with the Coastal Development Commission at the end of June in hopes of being approved for a permit. Pimentel says the public input meeting is required before they are allowed to receive the permit. "With our funding timeline and with all of the challenges on the coast, we have to deliver these projects by the end of June in order to maintain that funding," said Pimentel. 


"People have questions, they are asking about what's the traffic control plan or asking what the wetland mitigation plan is," said Kalt. "They should have that information to review before the public comment period and they don't, they don't have that."


"Our main goal is to make sure people get to their destinations safely and we're sure this is exactly what's needed in order to accomplish that goal," said Pimentel.


"We live here, we bike and ride on the corridor all the time and we have ideas for how it can be improved but they don't seem to really care," said Kalt.


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Two Eureka road rehabilitation projects are likely to be cut, and the long-anticipated $38 million U.S. Highway 101 Corridor Improvement Project at the Indianola Interchange will likely be delayed two years, according to a report released by the California Transportation Commission.

Funding for these improvement projects comes from the state’s gas tax, which has seen massive shortfall as gas prices have plummeted and fuel efficient vehicles, including electric plug-ins, replace gas guzzlers.

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