Mad River Union
ARCATA/BLUE LAKE – Following decades of consideration, Arcata’s City Council unanimously approved an initial design last week for the long-planned Annie and Mary Trail project, a bike and pedestrian path which will wind its way through the city and out to Blue Lake.
The trailway design, which will connect existing trails and create new ones, will keep bikers away from motorized vehicles, aligning with railways on the defunct Arcata and Mad River Railroad, which was rendered bereft of service in the 1990s.
Community input over the course of a series of meetings leaned toward the railway alternative over other options which would have included a preponderance of driveway crossings, increasing interaction with cars and trucks.
In addition to being a safer alternative, the railway option also reduces costs to the city, as those rights-of-way are paved in gravel, according to Netra Khatri, assistant city engineer.
After previously ending northward at the city limits near the Giuntoli Lane overpass, city planners worked with the county and Humboldt County Municipal Water District to extend the trail out to the Mad River at Park One.
“There wasn’t much of a place for people to end up,” said Natalie Arroyo, senior planner with Natural Resources Services. “It was a really great collaborative opportunity to continue it to more of a recreational destination and opportunity for getting outside and enjoying everything Park One has to offer.”
She also said community engagement brought forth concerns about safety, particularly around Giuntoli Lane and Sunset Avenue, as well as ADA accessibility. Women specifically expressed fear about sections of the trail that were not lit as well. The issue was not so much the extension to Park One, which most felt would be used recreationally during daylight hours, but the sections within the city which some said would be used for commuter traffic.
Residents suggested enhanced lighting, with a concern for excessive light pollution. “We will address the drainage, lighting, and safety issue as we progress with the final design,” said Khatri.
Next steps for the Annie and Mary Trail project will include:
• Draft of preliminary engineering plans by December
• Final project report in February
• Potential Caltrans Active Transportation Program application in spring or summer 2020