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Compiled

by: Maureen Jules, Erik Jules & Sarah Hallowell

SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL


Main pointsJune 21st Arcata Transportation Committee Meeting:
On May 17th 2016 an 8 year old Fuente Nueva student cycling home from school on Foster
Avenue with his Mom, came within feet of losing his life as a reckless driver engaged in a felony
pursuit by law enforcement swerved out of control on three tires and one bare rim towards the
boy, barely missing him before the rim went off the side of the road. The bare rim left a
haunting track on the road which ultimately led to the drivers arrest in Kneeland. This event
was clearly outside of our control, but it has motivated our community to assess the many
unsafe conditions along this route which could be within our control.
We are under the impression that Foster Avenue is an unmarked county road with a default
speed limit of 55 mph. We have been told by a city official that 17th/Q Street is a city road until
after the 90 degree corner at Tule Fog Farm where it becomes an unmarked county road. Some
of the city maintained portion of this route lacks a center line, has no bike lane and is generally
narrow, curvy and so dangerous that cycling families coming from the north take a user-created
trail on the tracks to bypass this city-maintained section of the road. The user created bypass
cuts off of Alliance on the other Foster Avenue north of The Neighborhood Board shop. The
trail spits kids out onto the county maintained portion of Foster Avenue across from Tule Fog
Farms parking area where the speed limit is 55 mph and quite close to a blind corner.
Given the future potential for changing demography, such as the proposed field acquisition of
Dan Johnsons property by the City of Arcata, wed like the transportation committee to
examine the possibility of acquiring the old railroad tracks which parallel Foster to the north (see
attached map section A. represents the tracks) for trail creation. Weve heard, second-hand,
that Lane DeBrise, owner of Sun Valley bulb farm might be interested in selling or giving this
section of old railroad tracks to the City of Arcata. Is it possible a future trail could be paid for by
the Developer as part of traffic mitigation for the development?
Conversion of this short 580 meter segment of unused tracks to a trail would provide students
of Fuente Nueva, Mad River Montessori and Coastal Grove an important safe route to school.
Additionally, a new trail would provide a safe place for all the joggers, runners, pedestrians, dog
walkers and cyclists who currently use this section of the road recreationally. One city official
also mentioned that a Foster Avenue rail to trail might connect to future city trails already being
planned within this area.
The combination of a high speed limit, with through traffic coming from the west on Foster
Avenue including large trucks and Sun Valley Farm employees, with the congestion caused by
Saint Marys Congregation, Fuente Nueva Charter School, Coastal Grove Charter School and Mad
River Montessori preschool, leaves the current situation ripe for a serious accident. A trail
along Foster Avenue would quickly become a safe, healthy and enjoyable asset for the whole
community.