From the 1.16.13 edition
Rambling Around Town column
By Jack Durham
Press Editor & Reporter
Humboldt County Public Works recently announced that it hopes to replace the rusty, crusty, aging Hammond Bridge, which spans the Mad River and connects McKinleyville to the Arcata Bottoms.
The old railroad trestle, which has stood at the current location for seven decades, is rusting away and is beyond repair, say county officials. At the current rate of oxidation, the bridge will be unsafe in a decade. It’s an important pedestrian, bicycle and equestrian link in the Hammond Trail, so something must be done.
The county is considering replacing the bridge with budget-conscious, low-maintenance, long-lasting cement bridge, kind of like the pedestrian bridge over U.S. Highway 101 in Arcata. The bridge is estimated to cost $3.5 million, and is probably the least expensive option.
This replacement plan is utterly sensible, yet horrifying in its ugliness.
The old trestle is full of charm and grace. It has interesting geometric patterns and a wonderful patina. It enhances the landscape and is a joy to look at.
The cement replacement, on the other hand, is ugly. It would have a Stalinesque quality, with all the charm of the Humboldt County Courthouse.
When it comes to replacing the bridge, let’s consider other options. Let’s make sure that the bridge is replaced with something aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps an arch bridge?
It will cost more money. Maybe twice as much. But whatever is built we’re going to be looking at for a long time, so let’s make it something we can be proud of.
McKinleyville has an opportunity to improve the looks of Central Avenue. County Public Works is proposing a median strip down the town’s main drag between School Road and Hiller Road. The county’s goal is to make the busy roadway safer for motorists.
The median could also change Central Avenue’s ambience, especially if the median includes landscaping.
The county has said that landscaping is an option, but there needs to be a way to pay for the maintenance of the landscaping.
The existing landscaping, on the sides of Central Avenue, is maintained by the McKinleyville Community Services District through its Central Avenue Landscape Maintenance Zone.
Central Avenue merchants – including the McKinleyville Press – pay a monthly fee on their combined sewer/water bills. This money funds the maintenance of the lanscaping.
Maybe my fellow Central Avenue business owners would be willing to pay a little more to landscape the median?