Huffman, Padilla Secure $5.2 Million in Direct Federal Funding for Hammond Trail Bridge, Economic Development Response to COVID
Thanks to successful advocacy efforts from Senator Alex Padilla and Congressman Jared Huffman, two important projects in Humboldt County were directly authorized by Congress to receive a total of $5.2 million as part of the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget. The funding, called Community Project Funding, was authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act and will be used to replace the Hammond Trail Bridge and implement “Project Rebound,” which is a post-COVID update to the county’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.
“I am thrilled to have helped secure funds to replace the outdated Hammond Trail Bridge over the Mad River,” said Congressman Huffman. “The Hammond Trail is a popular piece of the recreation infrastructure and replacing this bridge will ensure the trail remains intact and useful to thousands of people who do and will enjoy the trail long into the future.”
Community Project Funding is a process that allows local governments and non-profits to give recommendations on what the federal budget should prioritize. After advocating for more than a year, Senator Padilla and Congressman Huffman were able to secure funding for the Hammond Trail Bridge replacement through the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development for Project Rebound.
“I am proud to have worked closely with my colleague Congressman Huffman to help secure federal funding to improve Humboldt County’s roads and bridges that are in dire need of repair,” said Senator Padilla. “This funding will support the Hammond Trail Bridge Replacement Project which will improve transportation and yield significant benefits to the local community. I look forward to continuing to work on behalf of the people of the North Coast.”
This is the first time in at least 20 years the county has successfully received Community Project Funding.
“We really want to thank Congressman Jared Huffman and Senator Alex Padilla for their support, not just in this effort, but in all they do for the North Coast,” said Virginia Bass, Fourth District Supervisor and Chair of the Board. “This would not have been possible without their work. Replacing the bridge will serve so many people and is an important link between communities, and Project Rebound is a great response that will serve our economy for years to come.”
HAMMOND TRAIL BRIDGE
The Hammond Trail Bridge Replacement Project will receive $5 million, which is the maximum funding allotment allowed though this program. As a former railroad bridge, constructed for use in 1941 and repurposed for bicycle and pedestrian use in 1983, the historic Hammond Trail Bridge is near the end of its lifespan and needs replacement due to significant deterioration of its steel trusses.
The Hammond Trail Bridge provides a critical connection in the Humboldt Bay region, bypassing Highway 101 between Arcata and McKinleyville, and serves as a connector to the Humboldt Bay Trail in Arcata. The Hammond Trail Bridge is located at the south end of the Hammond Trail, which provides over five miles of trails along the west side of McKinleyville with connections to the Mad River and Clam Beach. The Hammond Trail was constructed in phases through partnerships between Humboldt County, Redwood Community Action Agency, State Coastal Conservancy, Caltrans, and the McKinleyville Community Services District. The Hammond Trail represents the backbone of the county’s portion of the California Coastal Trail and was the first active transportation facility within the county.
Federal funds secured by Congressman Huffman and Senator Padilla should allow the county to start the preliminary engineering and environmental review phase of this project later this year while additional funding for the completion of this project is secured. The total estimated cost for this project is currently $7.5 million dollars, including anticipated costs for technical studies, design, environmental review, permitting, right-of-way and construction.
In the coming year county staff will work to secure state funding and initiate the design and technical studies process. The county estimates that engineering and environmental review phase will likely be completed in 2025, as this project will require careful planning and design to minimize environmental impacts and will be subject to permits from several regulatory agencies, including the Coastal Commission. At this point the project scheduling goal is to receive all permits by 2026 and begin construction in 2027. Once completed, this project will yield significant community benefits by ensuring active transportation services in the Arcata and McKinleyville area, as well as continued public safety for those who cross the bridge.
“Humboldt County is grateful for the hard work by Congressman Huffman, Senator Padilla and county Public Works staff to secure $5 million dollars for the design, permitting, and replacement of the Hammond Trail Bridge over the Mad River. The Hammond Trail is a major community asset for recreation and non-motorized connectivity between our communities. The rusting bridge structure is badly in need of replacement and these funds come at a perfect time to help create more living wage jobs in our communities. The Hammond Trail and our other trail projects are quickly becoming an effective "economic engine" for our communities,” said Steve Madrone, Fifth District Supervisor.
Project Rebound is a direct economic development response to the pandemic and is intended to position Humboldt County’s economy to thrive in a post-COVID environment. Project Rebound was awarded $218,000, and it will be used to update Humboldt’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). A CEDS is a plan that helps guide local economic development efforts and serves as a requirement for the county to be eligible for certain federal grants. Humboldt County produces a new CEDS every 5 years. Though the county, through partnership with the local stakeholders, created its most recent CEDS in 2018. That report identified eight “Targets of Opportunity” for investment that would have the maximum impact on the economy.
COVID-19 is expected to alter the current economic strategy. As such, modifications and revisions need to be made to the most recent CEDS.
Project Rebound will focus on creating new economic development strategies that emphasize economic recovery, self-sufficiency, and equity. The Congressionally directed funding will be used to support an extensive community-wide effort led by Humboldt County, in collaboration with partnering communities and jurisdictions, to deconstruct and rebuild the county’s CEDS to fit the current needs of the community.
“Humboldt County is in a dramatically different position than it was in 2018, and our economic development strategy needs to reflect that,” said Scott Adair, Humboldt County’s Economic Development Director. “With this funding, we plan to perform more research than we’ve ever done, more outreach and develop a plan that is far-reaching and actionable so that we can set up our community for success as we rebound from COVID.”
Members of the community are invited to join Congressman Jared Huffman, local officials, and county staff to learn more about the importance of these projects on Friday, April 8 at 2:30 p.m. at the Hammond Trail Bridge.
More information and updates on these projects will be provided as it becomes available. To learn more about the Hammond Trail, please visit the Hammond Trail web page. For more information on Project Rebound, visit the CEDS web page. Please visit the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations website for a full summary of the Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations Omnibus package.
The Hammond Trail Bridge, courtesy of county staff.