December 15, 2023
Editor’s Note: The Collector will be on a winter break for the next few weeks. But more transportation news and analysis will be coming your way in 2024!
Shady Property “Swap” Could Affect Eureka’s Infill Development Plans
On Thursday evening, Eureka City Schools trustees voted to “swap” the vacant former Jacobs Middle School campus for a small single-family home and over $5 million in cash. The other party in this “swap” was a mysterious limited liability corporation that was created only days earlier, but is rumored to be connected to Rob Arkley. Perhaps not coincidentally, Arkley and his allies have been trying to justify their anti-downtown housing initiative by arguing that housing can be built on the Jacobs property instead.
CRTP supports building affordable housing on downtown parking lots and on the Jacobs property. However, it would be naive to put much faith in housing actually being built on the Jacobs site any time soon. Unlike the downtown parking lots – which the city owns and has already awarded to non-profit developers with specific affordable housing plans – the Jacobs property is now owned by a mysterious private entity with no obligations to do anything in particular with the land. And this week’s land “swap” was specifically engineered to evade the school district’s responsibilities under the Surplus Lands Act, which would have required them to offer the property for affordable housing development before selling it to a private party. So unfortunately we think this latest development is more of a shady political maneuver than a promise of more infill housing.
Eureka to Improve Myrtle Avenue Bike Lanes
If you don’t count the state highways (Broadway, 4th and 5th Streets), Myrtle Avenue is one of the busiest, least comfortable places to walk and bike in Eureka. So we’re excited that next week the Eureka City Council will consider removing a little bit of largely unused street parking to allow improved bike lanes with painted buffers.
However, due to the dangerous conditions on Myrtle, we’re asking the city to go just a little bit further and add some kind of physical separation between the bike lanes and the car lanes. We’re also asking for some improvements to the notorious Myrtle & West Avenue intersection as well.
Also, while we’re happy to see the bike lanes improved, we need to point out that this all should have been done automatically under the city’s Complete Streets Policy, rather than being brought to the City Council for a vote.
California Coastal Commission Approves South Broadway Project
The South Broadway Complete Streets Project was approved by the California Coastal Commission this week, and construction is scheduled to begin late next year. This is the first of several planned projects to make Broadway safer for people walking, biking and rolling, developed in response to CRTP’s advocacy. The project will save lives, and we are excited to see it move forward.
Unfortunately, Caltrans objected to our request for two small improvements to the project. However, the Coastal Commission did require Caltrans to monitor bike and pedestrian safety for 2 years after the project is complete and report back. This provides a mechanism for us to ask for additional safety improvements in the future, and you can be sure we’ll advocate for whatever is needed.
Humboldt to Develop Regional Transportation Safety Action Plan
The Humboldt County Association of Governments (HCAOG) has been awarded a federal grant to develop a transportation safety plan for the entire county. The grant also includes funding for several temporary demonstration projects to test out safety improvements. You can be sure that CRTP will be involved, advocating for the best evidence-based safety improvement strategies and for prioritizing the most vulnerable road users.
Last Chance Grade Environmental Documents Available
After years of planning, technical analysis and political negotiations, Caltrans has released its environmental review documents for the Last Chance Grade “permanent restoration” project. The project aims to re-engineer this section of Highway 101 to keep it from continuously riding an active landslide down toward the ocean, which for decades has resulted in constant closures and expensive temporary fixes. We are grateful that the most environmentally damaging options for this project have already been abandoned, but the environmental documents nevertheless should get careful scrutiny from stakeholders and the public.
Street Story: A Simple Way to Contribute to the Fight for Safe Streets
Reports on Street Story only take a few minutes, and they give CRTP and local government agencies better information about the need for safety improvements. So don’t forget to make a report every time you experience a near-miss, a crash, or a hazardous location. La versión de Street Story en español está disponible aquí.
News from Beyond the North Coast
The New York Times Attempts to Explain the US Pedestrian Safety Crisis
The article focuses on the fact that many fatalities happen after dark. This might not seem surprising, given the problem of lower visibility at night, but it is a uniquely American phenomenon: pedestrians in many other countries are more likely to be hit during daylight hours. But those countries have much lower overall rates of pedestrian fatalities, too. The problem of nighttime crashes thus seems to be related to all the other safety hazards on American roads – notably high speeds and huge vehicles.
New Vehicles Could Prevent Drunk Driving
The federal government is considering a rule that would require new cars to have standard features that detect when someone is intoxicated and prevent that person from driving. Devices that prevent drivers from speeding are also getting renewed attention lately. Both types of technology have been around in various forms for decades and, if implemented, would likely save thousands of lives every year.
How Can Pedestrians in Tribal Communities Be Protected?
National data show that Native people are much more likely than any other demographic group to be hit and killed while walking. A new report explores some of the challenges and potential solutions.
The Collector is CRTP’s weekly transportation news roundup, published every Friday. We focus on North Coast news, but we also include relevant state, national and international transportation news – plus other items that we just find kind of interesting! To submit items for consideration, email email@example.com.