Arcata moves toward transportation alternatives

Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union

ARCATA – Three key Arcata bodies synchronized their efforts last Thursday, June 23 – the City Council, Transportation Safety Committee and Energy Committee. Transportation and energy are closely related, and Arcata has a number of projects on the move and in various stages of maturity.

A consultant has been hired to look at securing grants for improving connectivity between Larson Park and the Aldergrove Industrial Park. That project will also serve the pending Village student housing project to be located, if it is approved, at the current site of the Craftsman’s Mall.

A recent multi-day Old Arcata Road design project conducted with assistance from the Redwood Community Action Agency identified multiple alternatives for the heavily used road linking south Arcata with Bayside and points south. A final plan will solidify in the next few months, then grants will be sought for implementation over the next five years.

As part of the Arcata Rails to Trails project, an improved crosswalk will be installed at Samoa Boulevard and L Street. There’s not enough money yet to put in a full-blown traffic light there, but as an interim measure, to help walkers and cyclists better connect to the Humboldt Bay Trail North, flashing lights similar to those now in place at F Street and Samoa Boulevard will be installed. They should be in place in time for the October opening of the bay-facing trail.

The Arcata-Mad River Transit System (A&MRTS) is going to get some nips and tucks. Only a handful of people use evening service, and said City Engineer Doby Class, “Running that bus around empty is just not a good use of funds.”

Thus, a transportation consultant is to study possible consolidation of evening bus routes with fewer stops but with service extended to midnight.

Some express routes could be implemented as well, for example a bus that links downtown with Humboldt State.

Despite pleas from bicycle advocates, adding bike racks to city buses isn’t likely. The buses can only carry a few bikes, and the placement and removal of the bikes plays havoc with the schedule. “It’s a rideable community,” Class said. “Ride your bike.”

Class said that A&MRTS has bought its last petroleum-fueled bus. The four current Gillig coaches have 10 more years of service life, but after they go, electric buses should be available.

Considerable discussion was devoted to “mode shifting,” that is, making non-vehicular forms of transportation as easy and convenient as cars. Toward that end, two bicycle rental stations are initially planned – one at the Transit Center and one near the Plaza.


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