Eureka Revives Zombie Road Proposal through Palco Marsh

Humboldt Baykeeper logoOn November 13, the City of Eureka held a public workshop to gather input on a new plan for the 101 Broadway Corridor. Described as a “Multi-Modal Corridor Plan” to increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists while decreasing traffic congestion, the City unfortunately began this public process by reviving controversial plans for a new road along Humboldt Bay.

In 2012, the Eureka City Council voted to stop pursuing an old proposal to punch a new road through the Palco Marsh, which was purchased by the City for conservation purposes in 1985. For some inexplicable reason, the City has revived this impossible project. The Waterfront Drive Extension was rejected in 2012—and should be taken off the table forever—for several reasons.

The coastal wetlands at risk are protected by the Coastal Act, the City’s coastal regulations, and by conservation easements. The proposed road would plow through wetlands that were protected as mitigation for the Bayside Mall development. Since 1985, the City has received $1.5 million from the State Coastal Conservancy to acquire the Palco Marsh for wetland restoration and non-motorized public access.

When the Waterfront Drive Extension was rejected by the City Council in 2012, the funding was allocated to build the Waterfront Trail, which has since become a popular area for enjoying the Palco Marsh and Elk River Wildlife Sanctuary. A road in this area would not only disrupt wildlife habitat and coastal recreation, but it would also be vulnerable to flooding, liquefaction, and rising sea level, which will inundate the area in the foreseeable future.

There’s another reason that Eureka shouldn’t waste its money pursuing pie-in-the-sky road building schemes, and it’s an important one. That money is desperately needed for real, feasible, effective transportation solutions. Between 2005 and 2009, the City spent more than $1.2 million dollars pursuing this project while knowing it would never be approved. Rather than throwing more money at a road that’s going nowhere, public funding should go into desperately needed safety improvements on Broadway.

“Broadway is trying to be both a downtown Main Street and a highway, and failing at both,” says Colin Fiske of the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities. “It’s a frustration for drivers and a death trap for bicyclists and pedestrians. The only thing that will make Broadway both safer and more pleasant is redesigning it to make it the kind of place where people want to be, rather than the kind of place people want to get through as fast as possible.” In other words, embrace its reality as a Main Street and stop trying to make it a highway.

There are lots of proven methods for improving the safety and comfort of a downtown streetscape like Broadway. Widen the sidewalks and narrow the road. Plant trees and install art. Build buffered bike lanes, bulb-outs, and pedestrian refuges. It’s not rocket science.

You can join us in urging public officials to drop the plans for new roads west of Broadway and instead, focus on multi-modal transportation to reduce traffic congestion, including projects that will make walking and biking along and across Broadway safe.

Share your ideas for the future of Broadway at: www.eurekabroadwaycorridorplan.com

 

The Humboldt County Public Library’s Summer Reading Tour offered an end-of-summer Baykeeper tour aboard the Madaket for participants and their families. Photo: Jennifer Kalt.
The Humboldt County Public Library’s Summer Reading Tour offered an end-of-summer Baykeeper tour aboard the Madaket for participants and their families. Photo: Jennifer Kalt.

2019 Bay Tours Program

Humboldt Baykeeper offers kayak and motor boat tours of Humboldt Bay and Elk River to a variety of community groups from May to October. Our motorboat tours aboard the H/V Madaket enable safe, fun, and informative Humboldt Bay tours for diverse community groups. Our kayak tours and trash cleanups with the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center are fantastic opportunities for people who have never been out on the water.

One of the greatest rewards of implementing this program is being able to provide an experience of a lifetime for many people who have never experienced Humboldt Bay from the water. Developing relationships with community groups has built trust, encouraging people to join tours in a safe environment that may not exist for them at public tours and events.

Thanks to the California Coastal Conservancy, Humboldt Area Foundation, and the Trees Foundation’s Cereus Fund for funding the Bay Tours Program, and thanks to all of our community partners, who make our Bay Tours Program a success!

The Wiyot Tribe
English Express
The Studio & Canvas + Clay
The Humboldt County Library Summer Reading Program
Gaining Ground and Butler Valley
Community Access Program for Eureka
Camp Cooper
Serenity Inn
Coast Seafoods Company
Hog Island Oyster Company

 

Jasmin Segura, Humboldt Baykeeper's Bay Tours Coordinator. Photo: Jen Kalt.
Jasmin Segura, Humboldt Baykeeper’s Bay Tours Coordinator. Photo: Jen Kalt.

We are celebrating Jasmin Segura’s fifth anniversary as our Bay Tours Coordinator! She is a Spanish translator and interpreter who works with a wide range of community groups to coordinate bay tours. For info, contact Jasmin at tours@humboldtbaykeeper.org.