Rendering of plans for a new roundabout at Old Arcata and Jacoby Creek Roads | Images from the City of Arcata

For years the City of Arcata has been planning to make necessary safety improvements to the cracked, bumpy and not exactly pedestrian- or bicycle-friendly portions of Old Arcata Road. The Arcata City Council will receive an update on this long-planned project during tonight’s meeting.

Improvements are proposed for the roughly one-mile portion of Old Arcata Road — starting at the end of Samoa Boulevard and extending just past Jacoby Creek Road — and will include repaving the roadway, adding bike lanes and extending the sidewalks. The project also includes plans to construct a new roundabout at the Jacoby Creek Road intersection, along with crosswalks, paved walkways, additional lighting and signs connected to the roundabout. The majority of the project area is located within Arcata City limits, but a small portion falls under county jurisdiction.

Map of the project area

After some citizens complained about previously proposed plans in 2012, Arcata City Engineering Netra Khatri told the Outpost, the City decided to take a different approach and eventually contracted with SHN Consulting Engineers to help prepare a “community–driven plan.” The consultant and the City hosted several community meetings and have used the feedback to redesign the project. 

Plans have recently had to shift again, Arcata Community Director David Loya told the Outpost, after a member of the public, Kathleen Stanton, contested the city’s historic resources report for the Mitigated Negative Declaration — a declaration filed when planners determine that a project will have no significant environmental impacts. Stanton, a historic research consultant, states in a letter to the City that the report, which only identified seven historic sites in the project area, is “woefully inadequate” and that no field study was conducted in an attempt to identify potential historic resources.

“By narrowly defining the project area, not surveying the area on foot and having no historic context to guide the identification or evaluation of previously unrecorded properties, the consultants missed many historically significant and eligible buildings and sites in the historic logging and farming community of Bayside,” Stanton writes in her comment to the City.

The City will now need to complete a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which will add more time to the process. After the EIR has been completed, it will then be released for a 30-day public comment period and eventually will come back to the council for approval. After that, the City will complete the design and approval process. If all goes well, Khatri told the Outpost, project construction is expected to start in summer 2022.

Khatri encouraged members of the public to attend tonight’s meeting to voice their support or concerns over the project, or to email, and said he is looking forward to finally completing this much needed project.

“The Old Arcata Road improvements have been on our books for a long time,” Khatri said. “The improvements are critical. [The road] is not in great condition and it’s an alternative route to 101, so that makes it even more critical.”

The Arcata City Council meets virtually tonight at 6 p.m. You can view the full meeting agenda and directions on how to participate here.