Soon, this path will continue all the way from the skatepark to Valley West. | Photo by Jett Williams

New trail to connect Sunset Ave. and Valley West

The proposed path will link with the Humboldt Bay Trail, and could eventually lead from Eureka to Blue Lake

The proposed path will link with the Humboldt Bay Trail, and could eventually lead from Eureka to Blue Lake

Pedestrians, cyclists and commuters will soon have a safer time getting around as a variety of changes are coming to northern Arcata which were showcased in a pop-up demo in front of the Arcata Skatepark on Monday.

The main improvement is a proposed trail continuing the North Humboldt Bay Trail along defunct train tracks from the skate park across Highway 101 to the industrial park by Valley West.

This trail would link up with the proposed Annie & Mary trail and could eventually lead all the way from Eureka to Blue Lake.

The proposed trail would follow the train tracks, inside the red circle. | Photo by Jett Williams

Natalie Arroyo is the senior planner for the Redwood Community Action Agency (RCAA) and said they performed a walkability assessment in Valley West looking for pedestrian challenges in that area.

“West End road is a major challenge for people walking or biking with the truck traffic and the narrow nature of the road,” Arroyo said. “Valley West is cut off from most of the city, with 101 and 299 limiting pedestrian access.”

After the last trains ran in 1997 the steel rails were pulled up and scrapped. The remains of the tracks have turned into an unsanctioned trail, but it’s skinny and rough with limited lines of sight and zero handicapped accessibility. The proposed trail would be paved, leveled and accessible by wheelchair as well as cleared out for safe lines of sight.

Funding for this project came from a Caltrans grant and money from the “Friends of the Annie & Mary Trail” will be used for the portion built outside of city limits.

Arroyo said that they began applying for the project two or three years ago and they could see a trail being built within the next five years.

Delo Freitas lives near the proposed trail and liked the idea of having a safe way to get to the industrial park off of Valley West.

“I’m excited to see Arcata thinking clearly about making all the pieces of the city fit together,” Freitas said. “I’d encourage all students to go to city council meetings, as that’s where the decisions get made.”

RCAA Senior Planner Natalie Arroyo (green helmet) discusses the plans with Sarah West, as Delo Freitas studies the maps. | Photo by Jett Williams

Other plans including a bus stop in front of the skatepark, a roundabout at the Sunset and LK Wood intersection and a new bike lane layout would improve cyclist safety and were also showcased at the demo.

Emily Sinkhorn is the director of RCAA’s natural resources services division, and said the idea behind the demo was to collect community input on the multitude of proposed pedestrian safety improvements.

“We conducted a survey with over 400 responses. Many students in the area said they were excited for a bus stop and lights on the pedestrian walkways over the freeway,” Sinkhorn said. “We haven’t really heard much opposition for this trail.”

The final plan won’t be brought to the city until mid-summer, so there’s still time to make your opinion heard on these projects.

Contact RCAA on their website or go to the Trail Summit being held May 4 in the Kate Buchanan Room on campus to get involved.

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