EUREKA, Calif. — Two-and-a-half decades since the idea was first proposed, the Humboldt Bay Trail is officially underway. On Wednesday, parties involved in the project held a community ceremony to mark the occasion.
The trail will provide a biking connection between Eureka and Arcata, so community members can safely bike between the two cities.
"They way [U.S. Highway 101] is now, only really brave cyclists who are willing to ride on the shoulder can make the trip between Eureka and Arcata," Humboldt County Public Works Deputy Director Hank Seemann said.
One such brave cyclist is President of the Humboldt Bay Bicycle Commuters Association Rick Knapp.
"I began cycling in 1972," Knapp said. "I went out and bought [a bike], started commuting to work—15-mile roundtrip—and I continued to do it all they way until I retired and for 20 years since then."
For Knapp, the project is a huge step in making the Humboldt Community more bicycle-friendly.
The project also serves as a symbolic move to further unite the two North Coast cities. To show this, Wednesday's ceremony featured a "ribbon-tying"— rather than a typical ribbon-cutting—to represent the physical connection the trail will provide between Eureka and Arcata.
In the several years since it was proposed, the project has faced numerous barriers, including opposition to cutting down the eucalyptus trees where the trail will be, repairing erosion on the railroad tracks there and acquiring ownership of different land parcels.
"We just have to keep moving progressively," Seemann said.
But through all of the obstacles facing the project, Seemann said the 25-year-old vision of the trail remained at the forefront of his goals for the county.
"When you [to the Arcata Bay Trail], you see people really having wonderful experiences," Seemann said. "It's residents that can go there every day or every week, visitors who go there, and just how that becomes how that adds the quality of life."
Construction will begin next month and is expected to be completed in 2024.