Motorists of the future may find themselves driving between Arcata and Eureka atop a causeway suspended over the waters of an expanded Humboldt Bay.
A raised roadway one of several potential adaptation measures being considered for this six-mile stretch of Highway 101 that runs mere feet from the rising waters of Humboldt Bay.
On Wednesday, employees with Caltrans (the California Department of Transportation) appeared before the California Coastal Commission to deliver an update on the agency’s long-term plans to deal with sea level rise on this thoroughfare.
Environmental activists say such planning is urgently needed. “It’s definitely past time to be looking at building a causeway, because the sea level is rising,” Jennifer Kalt, executive director of the nonprofit Humboldt Baykeeper, told the Outpost Thursday. “There’s not going to be any way to stop it, so we need to be able to figure out ways to live with it.”
Some sea level rise projections have shown that sections of Hwy. 101 north of Eureka could see monthly flooding by 2023 if adaptation measures aren’t taken.
At Wednesday’s Coastal Commission hearing, Jennifer Savage, California policy manager with the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation, criticized Caltrans for failing to include adaptation measures in the Corridor Improvement Project from the beginning.
“This project could have been a great example of how to do things,” she said. “Instead, it’s just one more in a long list of projects reluctantly approved despite being, as Chair [Steve] Padilla said, ‘wholly inadequate.’”