SHAUN WALKER/THE TIMES-STANDARD
An SUV passes a large redwood on Avenue of the Giants near Weott.
Caltrans is proposing widening four bridges on the Avenue of the Giants in Southern Humboldt County, an effort that it says could have harmful effects on old growth redwood trees and endangered species.
The agency is preparing a full environmental impact report on the proposed project, and will hold a scoping meeting on Feb. 28 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Humboldt Redwoods State Park visitor center on the avenue in Weott. The notice comes just after protests about another project to widen U.S. Highway 101 at Richardson Grove, which opponents claim will damage the roots of giant redwoods.
In its notice of the avenue bridges project, Caltrans said that a number of potential environmental impacts could be expected.
To accommodate non-motorized traffic, the proposed project would widen the Ohman Creek Bridge south of Phillipsville, the Elk Creek Bridge south of Myers Flat, the Bridge Creek Bridge and the Bear Creek Bridge between Redcrest and Pepperwood, all of which are within Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The Bridge Creek structure may be deficient and require significant repair, according to Caltrans. The bridges would be open to one-way traffic during construction, except for Bridge Creek Bridge, which would be subject to a closure and detour during reconstruction.
Construction of the bridges would occur in habitat for protected marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls, and would not be stopped during nesting season in order to complete construction during dry weather, the notice reads. The project would involve working in the root zone of redwoods, or placing paving over roots.
"This project will result in both actions and could potentially result in significant impacts to old-growth redwoods," the notice reads.
Four South Fork of the Eel River tributaries would be diverted for one to two seasons, Caltrans says, possibly affecting coho and chinook salmon and steelhead.
The initial study was not attached to the notice, and an e-mail to the project manager was not returned by deadline. Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbee said that more information on the project will be made available on the Caltrans website on the day of the February meeting.
"This is real early in the project cycle," Frisbee said.
Written comments should be sent no later than March 21 to Sandra E. Rosas, Office of Environmental Management M-2, Caltrans District 3, 703 B Street, Marysville, CA 95901. For more information and to request a copy of the documents, e-mail email@example.com.