In the COVID era, it seems that many more people are walking and biking. That is a great thing, and I hope that we don’t forget about the joys of a family walk through the neighborhood once we can all return to our regular routines.
All of this activity, though, has made me even more aware of unsafe stretches of road in my own community.
Nearly two decades ago, the City of Arcata began planning for safety improvements to the part of Old Arcata Road that runs through Sunny Brae and Bayside. The last major section of this project, which runs from the Buttermilk Road roundabout through to just past the junction with Jacoby Creek Road, is now moving a step closer to completion.
The City of Arcata has given notice of intent to adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND). I had a chance to talk to Netra Khatri, the city engineer in charge of the project, to catch up on what is going on.
Planning began in Fall 2016 with community meetings, an on-site walk of the project area, design charette (that’s a fancy word for an intense period of planning during which all stakeholders meet to attempt to resolve conflicts and outline solutions), and presentation of a variety of alternatives. At this time, construction is expected to begin in Summer 2022.
The project details vary a bit along the route, as they have to adjust to the many residences and other infrastructure, but some really important safety enhancements are included.
The designs call for dedicated 5-foot wide bike lanes on both sides of the roadway, a paved 6-foot wide walkway along the bay side of the road, and a traffic circle, crosswalks, and other traffic calming measures at the junction of Old Arcata and Jacoby Creek roads.
The design for the junction with Jacoby Creek Road has been the most intensely discussed part of the project. The present plan calls for a 105-foot diameter roundabout which project designers feel is the best way to slow traffic to improve safety while still keeping traffic moving steadily.
This would be smaller than any of the other roundabouts already installed on Old Arcata Road. For comparison purposes, it will be similar in size to the roundabout at the three-way junction of Spear Avenue, West End Road and St. Louis Road, in north Arcata.
The Initial Study/MND that is proposed for adoption is available online at cityofarcata.org/720/Old-Arcata-Road-Design-Project.
The 280-page report includes copious details about the project design, as well as lots of fascinating background about the local environment, the history of the adjacent buildings, and so on.
Anyone who wants to make a comment is urged to do so. Comments can be submitted by phone to (707) 822-5955 or email to [email protected] through 5 p.m. on Feb. 22.
For more information, to send Bayside news or to just say hi, email [email protected] or call (707) 599-3192.