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CalTrans 101 Corridor Project Special Meeting

Monday, November 14, 1:30

Humboldt County Board of Supervisors' Chamber, County Courthouse, Eureka

Submitted by 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:

  1. Funding the full project as proposed

  2. Funding the project in two phases so that some funding remains available for other local projects

  3. 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:

  1. Roundabout at 3 Corners (Myrtle and Freshwater)

  2. Traffic signal at Myrtle Avenue and Moore/Pennsylvania in Myrtletown

  3. Traffic signal or roundabout at Central Avenue and Murray Road in McKinleyville

  4. Pedestrian improvements and road rehabilitation in downtown Garberville

  5. Pedestrian improvements and road rehabilitation on Central Avenue in McKinleyville

  6. 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:

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