A total of $ 16.5 million in public funds has been raised for the Great Redwood Trail project, North Coast State Senator Mike McGuire said Friday morning.
The long-planned project aims to turn around 300 miles of unused North Coast Rail Authority lines into a hiking trail connecting urban areas with remote wilderness.
McGuire announced that $ 10 million of the newly acquired funding will be invested in the Great Redwood Trail master plan for the section from Cloverdale in Sonoma County to Blue Lake in Humboldt County.
As described by McGuire, the master plan will help design the trail, determine the costs of construction, operation and maintenance, fund the route and environmental impact analysis, and fund the processes. community engagement to include feedback from residents.
“The master plan in particular is an absolute game changer for this trail. This gives us the tools we need to formally engage with our neighbors to formally engage with the community on this project and start building large sections of the trail, ”said McGuire. “But today’s historic investment ensures that the Great Redwood Trail is not just a dream, it’s now a reality that will benefit our region and (and) the people of the North Coast for generations to come. come.”
McGuire touted the project as a boon to the region.
“The Great Redwood Trail will not only generate hundreds of jobs during construction, but it will also be an important (long-term) economic driver for the cities around and through it,” said McGuire.
Of the announced funding, $ 4 million will be invested in upgrading the south end of the existing freight rail service line. SMART Commuter Rail, a public transport agency in the Sonoma Marino region, has taken over this section of the line and currently operates passenger and freight rail transport.
Further sums acquired will be used to permanently preserve the rail bed currently found along the project line for potential future rail use. McGuire said project management is currently working with federal authorities on the rail banking process. The state railway banking law allows a railway to remove all of its equipment – except bridges, tunnels, and culverts – from a corridor and turn the corridor over to any qualified private organization or public agency. to maintain it for future rail use.
The project had previously secured $ 2 million in funds to modernize and improve the southern part of the railway line.
The Arcata Urban Trail System and Eureka Waterfront Trail should be incorporated into the project. During Friday’s conference, Arcata’s Director of Environmental Services, Emily Sinkhorn, highlighted the importance of trails as a public resource.
“(The Great Redwood Trail) will really provide a safe walking and cycling connection between the north of Arcata and the inner city areas, as well as direct river access for Arcata residents,” a- she declared. “The development of the corridor and the launch of the major Redwood Trail Master Planning process will enhance these opportunities throughout the region, support more profitable trail projects that will look different, whether within communities or across communities. more distant landscapes. “
During the presentation, McGuire also unveiled the main signage design that will mark the trail along its run. Signs include artwork of a Roosevelt elk and ancient redwoods. Cities will have the option of including their name and municipal brand under the primary signage posted along portions of the trails that cross the city.
According to a 2020 report prepared for the legislature and commissioned by the California State Transportation Agency, trail development “for the entire 252-mile corridor is estimated at nearly $ 750 million, or about $ 3.1 million. per mile, in 2020 dollars, and over $ 1 billion, or about $ 4.6 million per mile, in 2030 dollars. ”
McGuire ended his presentation on an optimistic note.
“It truly is a transformative day that we have been talking about for years. Create a trail system that will connect two parts of this state, from the sparkling waters of Humboldt Bay to the bustling waters of San Francisco Bay, ”he said.