West Coast
The planned route for Humboldt Bay Trail South will finally connect Eureka and Arcata. | Image via County of Humboldt.

CA - County Supervisors Poised to Put the Humboldt Bay Trail South Project Out for Bids

Good news for fans of non-motorized transportation: The last stretch of trail needed to connect Eureka and Arcata is getting closer to realization.

At its regular meeting tomorrow, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors is slated to approve plans for the Humboldt Bay Trail South, a paved, four-and-a-quarter mile waterfront pathway between the two bayside municipalities. The agenda item also calls for the board to authorize the public works director to put the project out for bids, pending authorization from the Federal Highway Administration.

“It’s a really big step,” said Hank Seemann, the county’s deputy director of public works. If all goes to plan, he said, people will be cycling, jogging, roller-skating and skateboarding between the Arcata Plaza and the Eureka boardwalk before long.

“I would fully expect it to be complete by summer of 2024,” Seemann said, adding that construction could begin on or around May 1.

The project is expected to cost $16,046,902, and the funds are already lined up. The California State Coastal Conservancy has authorized $2 million dollars for the project, and in October the California Transportation Commission allocated nearly $13.3 million. Add in $1.25 million committed by the California Department of Transportation and the total construction budget stands at $16,396,000. (Caltrans will administer the funding.)

Like the other stretches of trail that have been built in recent years, this paved, standalone path will be separated from the roadway, offering users a buffer for the noisy, dangerous traffic on Hwy. 101. The majority of the trail will be situated between the highway and the defunct railroad corridor, though as you can see in the diagram above, one mile-long segment will skirt around the far side of Brainard mill site.

At the southern end, the trail will cross the Eureka Slough railroad bridge, connecting with the Eureka Waterfront Trail. The plans call for replacing about 125 of the bridge’s treated timber crossties. That represents about a quarter of the total number of crossties — those in the worst shape. The county’s request for bids will include an “additive bid item” to replace more like 75 percent of the crossties, including ones that are in “fair to good condition,” according to a staff report.

That extra work — estimated to cost another $353,000 — will be completed if the winning bid comes in below the available construction budget.

The project calls for major modifications to the Eureka Slough Bridge, construction of three new trail bridges and removal of the northernmost stretch of the eucalyptus trees lining Hwy. 101. County staff previously concluded that those towering trees represent a safety hazard and must be removed in order to complete and maintain the trail.

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