Home > Humboldt County > Special Meeting on CalTrans 101 Corridor Project

Special Meeting on CalTrans 101 Corridor Project

Changes to the Eureka-Arcata corridor on Highway 101 could tie up money for other road projects in Humboldt County for years to come. A special meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 14th at 1:30pm in the Board of Supervisors’ chamber at the courthouse.

The following comes from BOS Chairman Mark Lovelace.

CalTrans has asked the County of Humboldt and all seven cities to dedicate our entire share of State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) funds for the next 9 years towards their 101 Corridor project, which would address safety issues in the corridor between Arcata and Eureka.  The STIP is funded from gasoline taxes and is expected to provide some $23 million for road projects in Humboldt County over the next 9 years.  Sweeping this funding would mean that the County and the cities would not have any of these funds to do other needed improvement projects anywhere else in the County until at least 2020.

Our Board initially heard this request from CalTrans at our meeting on November 1st.  At that time we expressed our concern about the huge impact this decision would have on the entire county for many years to come.  This decision would not only impact those who use the 101 corridor; it would impact residents in McKinleyville, Cutten, Freshwater, Myrtletown, Garberville and other places where long-planned safety improvement projects would now be shelved if we dedicate all of our funding to the 101 corridor.

Given the impact of this decision, our Board continued this item to a special meeting on Monday, November 14th at 1:30 p.m. so that we can hear from members of the public on this important issue.

The design for CalTrans’ 101 Corridor Improvement Project includes an overpass at Indianola Cutoff, a traffic signal at Airport Road and closing the rest of the median crossings.  The Corridor Improvement Project was begun in response to a series of fatal accidents that occurred along the corridor in the 1990’s, including a quadruple-fatality at Indianola Cutoff.  CalTrans initiated the “Safety Corridor” as an interim measure to reduce speeds and improve safety until a permanent fix could be designed and constructed.  While the rate of collisions in the corridor remains high, there have been no fatalities since the Safety Corridor was established.

CalTrans’ project has not yet received final approval.  The City of Arcata, the Coastal Commission and a number of other agencies and organizations have expressed concerns regarding sea level rise, impacts to wetlands and lack of accommodation for bicyclists.  The request to dedicate the funding comes ahead of final permitting to meet a critical December 15th deadline for the California Transportation Commission.

The final decision on this funding will be made by the Humboldt County Association of Governments (HCAOG) at its December 1st meeting.  The options HCAOG will consider include:

  • Funding the full project as proposed
  • Funding the project in two phases so that some funding remains available for other local projects
  • Denying the request for funding

Some local road projects are already programmed to receive STIP funding in the next cycle and those will not be affected by this decision.  However, if the CalTrans project is fully funded, other projects that will not go forward until after 2020 include:

  • Roundabout at 3 Corners (Myrtle and Freshwater)
  • Traffic signal at Myrtle Avenue and Moore/Pennsylvania in Myrtletown
  • Traffic signal or roundabout at Central Avenue and Murray Road in McKinleyville
  • Pedestrian improvements and road rehabilitation in downtown Garberville
  • Pedestrian improvements and road rehabilitation on Central Avenue in McKinleyville
  • Roundabout at Campton and Walnut in Cutten

A Times-Standard article on our Board’s November 1st discussion about this project can be found here.

Our Board of Supervisors agenda item from November 1st can be found here.

Various CalTrans reports and documents on the project can be found here.

[Image source]

  1. Anonymous
    November 9, 2011 at 5:47 am

    for the next 9 years towards their 101 Corridor project,

    This is the power of the press. A single newspaper beat a war cry, inventing the name “blood alley” under the specious claim that ‘some people’ call it that. Then our two other Humboldt Bay news publications picked up the name as if it were real. Hint: when a newspaper invokes ‘some people’ it means one person, the person writing the news report.

    And it worked! People ignored the corridor’s extensive safety record and instead focused on an atypical cluster of bad accidents that were unusual, not representative of any real change in the flow of traffic in the corridor. Evidence be damned. Truthiness rules the day.

    Now we’re being asked to give up 9 years of funding to make safety improvements in the corridor — nice improvements yes, but not needed — ones now despised. For example, the overpass at Indianola Cutoff is feared it will spur development in Freshwater. Well, you know what? You made your bed, now sleep in it. This is what happens when people ignore evidence and data and protest with their heart.

  2. Gary Indianola
    November 9, 2011 at 6:35 am

    Was advocating for bicycles, tidal rise improvements and marsh land protection worth it? If so, then there is your answer. If one protests for protest’s sake over and over again, without implementing a real plan, perhaps no one listens anymore. No Soup For You!

  3. Decline To State
    November 9, 2011 at 7:03 am

    Nine years of no state funded road work for the entireof Humboldt is simply not an option. Improving the safety corridor between Eureka and Arcata in no way benefits those people living in Willow Creek or Garberville and yet we are asking them to contribute to this project.

    I would advocate leaving the corridor as is (or to simply un-designate it as a “safety corridor” and let the chips fall where they may) and to continue to use state money for other various road projects.

    My second suggestion would be that the state simply scrap the controversial Richardson Grove widening project and apply those funds to improving the corridor, freeing up the funds that were slated for the corridor to be applied elsewhere over the entire Humboldt County..

  4. indianola resident
    November 9, 2011 at 7:47 am

    traffic signals are the answer.

  5. Plain Jane
    November 9, 2011 at 7:58 am

    If it’s still dangerous at 50 mph, lower the speed limit to 35. We can’t afford to build an overpass at the expense of road maintenance all over the county. The difference in 65 versus 50 mph between Eureka and Arcata is a few minutes more in time and fewer mpg. If people are afraid to cross the freeway they can take a different route or turn right onto the highway and change directions where they feel it is safe to do so.

  6. Anonymous
    November 9, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Jane, it’s actually not that dangerous. The data doesn’t bear out that conclusion. Ask CalTrans. They’ll be happy to hand you the data as they continue to beat their head against the wall wondering how it came to this… a solution nobody wants.

  7. Plain Jane
    November 9, 2011 at 8:26 am

    I agree, 8:11, but others disagree. I just think that’s a lot of money to fix the perception that there is a problem when there are other options available, especially when available funding is inadequate to keep roads safe all around the county where people don’t have alternative routes.

  8. Anonymous
    November 9, 2011 at 8:29 am

    I would like to see a survey of that shows what percentage of drivers actually abide by the speed limit of the “corridor”. I would guess that the number is somewhere around 20%.

  9. Plain Jane
    November 9, 2011 at 8:33 am

    I don’t know, 8:29. I never drive it during rush hours, but when I do drive it I set my cruise control and relax. There are usually 1 or 2 “hares” that pass but most people seem to obey the limit.

  10. Anonymous
    November 9, 2011 at 8:33 am

    The dangerous part is the crossings, obviously. I think just get rid of them all except one and have a light at that one.

    The roundabouts have greatly lowered stress at the interesections where the CHP is and a few others. “Three Corners” at Freshwater really needs a de-stresser as well.

  11. Reality Check
    November 9, 2011 at 8:37 am

    If you think that stretch is or has ever been dangerous, please report to DMV immediately to have your license revoked.

  12. McKinleyvillan
    November 9, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Caltrans’ policy is to include bike/ped improvements in all highway improvement projects, thereby fixing the poorly-designed projects built in the era of cheap gas. It’s not optional, yet this project would make things worse for non-motorized travelers by closing most of the medians so that those of us in cars can drive faster. Totally inappropriate, even if they weren’t proposing putting al these other projects on hold for 8 years.

  13. Plain Jane
    November 9, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Walnut and Cypress could use one.

  14. sea level rising
    November 9, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Fools. Sea levels are rising and that means this stretch of highway will be underwater much of the time. So… we should spend millions on it and just pretend it will be OK.

  15. November 9, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Dear 8:52, Sea Level Rising- Humboldt County is a good 40 years+ behind in its coastal science. Decades ago everyone who paid half a wits attention knew armoring the coastline should be our efforts, instead we literally closed our eyes and began thoughtlessly removing vegetation.

    We have scientists making decisions on the coast who’ve never heard of Cowardins’ wetlands. It is the equivalent of a geologist who’d not heard of tectonics.

    ‘Qualified Coastal Engineers’ are expensive, wait til Humboldt County gets the bill for not having one. In the dunes, we are effecting Base Flood Elevation on a Pacific Coast V-Zone, our FEMA Coastal Zone maps are not done, we have a FEMA insured industrial water-pipe just inside the fore dune (trough) and we have begun an erosion process that is consuming our coastal forests.
    Relative Sea-Level Rise?
    Name one helmsman. Anyone?
    Maybe Tra or Kevin or Pete or NEC or John Woolley or FODs or Hank -explain how this works.

  16. Reality Check
    November 9, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Another waste of money by Caltrans. Meanwhile they impose higher deductibles on employee benefits and still no raises for anybody but management.

  17. November 9, 2011 at 11:36 am

    There MUST be more cost-effective ways to improve the Corridor. If all the money is tied up there, what happens when a bridge fails or a big slide removes part of 299? Maybe they could close median crossings and use “turn back lanes” to gain access to the “other side”. Simply put, there would be several opportunities to exit LEFT and swing around into the opposite direction. Heading South, you could swing back to get to Harper’s or the Airport. Not much inconvenience and a whole lot cheaper than overpasses. Less obstruction than stoplights as well.

    As said above, it does not make sense to tie up ALL of our hiway funds for this one questionable project. Doesn’t CalTrans have something more important to do?

  18. November 9, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Elevate the highway call it wetland enhancement, and grab some of that FEMA Homeland Security – coastal wetland funding!
    Difficulty arises in areas like Mid-City Motors off-ramp, but it could be done.

    For gods sake get the bull-dozers off of Vista Point. the results
    are absolutely backwards.

  19. Mars Bar
    November 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Screw Caltrans, tell the state/feds to give the $15 million to Humboldt’s schools or nature preserves or public services. The throughway is fine, they should even repeal the stupid special zoning. There’s not half enough traffic for it to matter. Or will there be? Caltrans paves the way for increased development. The proof is everywhere. Caltrans recently duped SoHum landowners out of property rights by contractually compensating them for right of way. “Sorry we didn’t mention your land is now worthless and you can’t do anything to it unless we say so.” Caltrans is the nozzle on the government’s money vacuum. Aren’t we in the midst of a rezoning war to accomodate an increase in dense development? Yes, our county representatives are hopefully duking it out for us to stop that plan. They keep building stuff and packing in more people. Nobody wonders where all the money goes, we see it disappearing right along with all this other stuff appearing.

    So in this case Caltrans gets stiffed by the State/Feds like Caltrans stiffs its own employees and associates. It’s a misnomer to say this is Humboldt’s loss. It’s Caltrans’ loss. I’m not crying for them.

  20. tra
    November 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Seems to me that the 50mph speed limit, the “safety corridor / headlights on” signs, and the radar “your speed is…” signs have made a real difference.

    It used to be that the average speed on that stretch seemed to be about 65-75 mph, which made it pretty challenging to cross the oncoming traffic when exiting left and to enter traffic when entering from the left — not to mention pretty hazardous for bicyclists trying to use those left exits/entrances. But it seems like now the average speed is down to about 50-60 mph.

    Perhaps we could just slow it down a bit further, say to 45 mph?

    And then spend some of the savings on a decent pedestrian / bicycle trail along the railroad right-of-way.

  21. Mars Bar
    November 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    tra’s options are definitely better than a multimillion dollar construction job that doesn’t have to happen. Contracted to a single corporate monopoly, who is told what to do by national government. Caltrans planners work with state and federal planners. Together they impose quota mandates that Caltrans is more than happy to insist we all fulfil for everybody’s benefitl. People would rather see money in their own pockets than more of somebody else’s cement. That can be accomplished by spending less on cement and more on public servants and services.

    Remember, Caltrans is just a single facet of a bigger pool of aloted money. Libraries, open door clinics, schools, open space, public pools, public transportation, emergency services, public festivities and events, security for small property owners who live on the only piece of land they own and can barely afford…quality of life. The greater population will be happier, the less they have to spend on the basics. No brainer.

    Private interests own the state’s most powerful industries: energy and transportation.. Their chairmen shake hands with wealthy government people in closed door meetings every week, and they smell eachother’s butts up the ladder.

    Don’t forget they kept everybody in the dark about this until now. Why?

  22. November 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Here are the recommendations I wrote for Green Wheels in 2009:
    http://www.green-wheels.org/node/533

    Basically, use alternative 1A which includes several u-turns to give motorists access where the median closures occur, and do several relatively inexpensive (compared with the interchange) bike-ped projects to mitigate for the lost non-motorized connectivity.

    I don’t think it would make everyone happy, but it would address motorist safety, bike and pedestrian connectivity and would be much more affordable.

    It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

  23. Anonymous
    November 9, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    If you knew any of the folks who were killed on that streach you would not scoff at its danger. The project is over studied and now just stupid however. Make it a 45mph ,with a stop light at Indianolo. keep a chp on the road and save lives and money.

  24. Goldie
    November 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    It’s like a new invention. Slowing Down. It would have to be marketed and explained. Slowing Down would save millions of dollars, thousands of gallons of gas and perhaps hundreds of lives. Roadways would have less wear, people, raccoons, deer, ducks and etc. would not get all smashed by vehicles hurling through. It is, of course, an unusual choice, slowing down. We have a belief it is our birth right to go as fast as we can and also a high note of our civilization. Fast = good. Slow = backwards.

  25. tra
    November 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    See also: Small is Beautiful.

  26. Omnomnonimous
    November 9, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    We lived for 20 years just off Old Arcata Road between the Indianola and Bayside cutoffs. Prior to creation of the safety corridor, it was terrifying to pull out on 101 so we just never did it. Since the speed limit was reduced it has always seemed much safer and we use it all the time.

    The safety corridor works. No fatalities since it was put in place says that clearly. No stretch of road as heavily traveled will be 100% free of accidents, and none of the very expensive changes they want to make will likely reduce the incidence of accidents from what they are now.

    This is CalTrans engaged in yet another big money grab. This project benefits CalTrans, not Humboldt County. We need to tell CalTrans to back off. When something works, leave well enough alone and worry about actual problems. If they want to make a change that will improve safety, how about extending the safety corridor all the way to the North Bank Road exit? Now that will save some lives, and it won’t cost a fraction of any of the projects they’re trying to foist upon us.

  27. Anonymous
    November 9, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    If you knew any of the folks who were killed on that streach you would not scoff at its danger.

    Repeating facts about the relative safety of the road is not scoffing at anyone. It’s called being rational. I’m sorry you don’t like the facts,but they are what they are.

  28. Dan
    November 9, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    See also: Transportation Plan.

    Bypass through traffic- most especially the big rigs, how
    many stop and goes for an 80,000 lb. load through Eureka?
    Willits is almost as bad. Green that.
    Deal with this as adults and we might have a civil downtown Eureka one day and a practical transportation system, to boot.
    Without a bypass it only gets worse.

  29. Anonymous
    November 10, 2011 at 9:00 am

    It can look great today, and I agree the corridor is much better now. Once traffic increases past a certain point it all goes to hell and you have a ten year planning horizon to deal with. In the meantime, traffic on Old Arcata increases as people use it as a commuter corridor, which just moves problems around. I grew up along a similar corridor. It was fine when I was young, and a similar fight was being fought, this time over a bypass. Traffic increased to the point that lines at crossing points (think Indianola) would be a quarter mile long or longer, and nearly everyone who lives in that community knows people that have died on the corridor. After 40 years of squabbling and lord knows how many deaths, interchanges have been going in at key spots over the last few years. I would like to avoid repeating this scenario in my new home. This kind of thing happens quickly, the tipping point isn’t gradual, and the planning process is long.

  30. Anonymous
    November 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    “If everyone just minded their own business the world would spin around a good deal faster than it does”.
    – The Red Queen

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