The County of Humboldt’s Public Works Department began construction of the Humboldt Bay Trail South Project in July. Due to work required for this project, the northern section of eucalyptus trees along U.S. Highway 101 (U.S. 101), located between Eureka and Arcata, will be removed to protect the safety of future trail users.
The trees to be removed are located north of the main entrance to the Brainard Mill site. The trail will bypass the southern section of eucalyptus trees, which will not be affected by this project. Tree removal will commence on Saturday, Aug. 12 requiring the closure of one of the two southbound lanes on U.S. 101.
Completion of the Humboldt Bay Trail between Eureka and Arcata along the Humboldt Bay shoreline has been a regional priority for nearly 25 years. The Humboldt Bay Trail South Project will connect with the Eureka Waterfront Trail near the Target store and the City of Arcata’s existing Humboldt Bay Trail segment which currently ends north of the Bracut Industrial Park. The majority of the Humboldt Bay Trail South segment will be situated between the railroad and U.S. 101, while a 1-mile portion will be placed on top of the levee around the Brainard Mill site. The Green Diamond Resource Company conveyed an easement to the County of Humboldt which allows placement of the trail on the levee.
The project includes widening the railroad prism, major modifications to the Eureka Slough railroad bridge, and construction of three new trail bridges. The project also includes urgent repairs to erosion damage along the railroad and raising the elevation of the railroad between the Brainard Mill site and Bracut Industrial Park to address flood hazards.
Funding for this project has been provided by the California Transportation Commission’s Active Transportation Program, the California State Coastal Conservancy, and Caltrans District 1. The construction contract was awarded to McCullough Construction, Inc. based in Arcata, CA. Construction began in July and will continue until work is suspended for the rainy season. Construction will resume in the spring of 2024 and is expected to be completed by October 2024.
Upon completion of this project, this portion of the trail will add over 4 miles to the Humboldt Bay Trail and deliver a significant advancement of the Great Redwood Trail and the California Coastal Trail by providing a paved, multi-use trail for the community to enjoy.
Eucalyptus Tree Removal
In 2018 a certified arborist completed a risk assessment report of the northern section of eucalyptus trees along U.S. 101 that found the trees are in an advanced state of decline. The risk assessment concluded that the trees exhibit a number of structural weaknesses that can result in failures. Falling dead tree limbs were identified as failures most likely to occur, posing the greatest risk to public safety. The risk assessment found that there is no reasonable method for mitigating the safety risk to future trail users and that the risk of failures would increase over time if the trees were allowed to remain.
Additionally, the eucalyptus trees are not eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the California Register of Historic Resources. The trees do not have special rarity or ecological value and do not meet the criteria to be considered an environmentally sensitive habitat area. Impacts to aesthetics and visual character were determined to be less than significant when the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors approved the project’s environmental study.
Bird surveys have confirmed that no active bird nests are currently present within the trees to be removed. As such, McCullough Construction, Inc. will begin removing the northern section of eucalyptus trees on Saturday, Aug. 12. This work will require closing one of the two southbound lanes on U.S. 101 for equipment access. Tree removal will be performed on weekends to reduce traffic impacts. The number of workdays required to remove the trees is uncertain due to the unique access constraints at the work site.
Work for the Humboldt Bay Trail South is happening while work on Caltrans District 1’s Indianola Undercrossing Project takes place. Community members traveling between Eureka and Arcata along U.S. 101 are encouraged to drive in accordance with posted speed limits, comply with all traffic control signs, and be alert for shifting lanes, for the safety of construction workers and members of the public. The County of Humboldt and Caltrans District 1 thank you for your patience while the agencies work to make improvements to the transportation system.
For more information on the Humboldt Bay Trail South project, please visit the county’s Humboldt Bay Trail webpage or call (707) 445-7741.
Image of a map noting the location of the Brainard Mill site, the northern section of eucalyptus trees, and the Indianola Cutoff. Map courtesy of the Humboldt County Department of Public Works. Click image to enlarge.