The Eureka Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a forum “Trucks & Trains & Ships & Planes, Moving People and Products in and out of Humboldt County.” Redwood Region Economic Development Commission Executive Director Gregg Foster facilitated a panel of consisting of Brad Mettam from CalTrans District 1, Captain Tim Petrucha of the Humboldt Bay Harbor District, Greg Pratt from Humboldt Transit Authority, Estelle Fennell representing the North Coast Rail Authority, Emily Jacobs from the Air division of Humboldt County Public Works, Tom Mattson from the Road division of the Humboldt County Public Works and Brian Gerving from the City of Eureka Public Works.
Tim Petrucha pointed out some disadvantages Humboldt Bay has, starting with the bays isolation and lack of infrastructure. Tug ships tend to support Harbors that are hubs of shipping. The yearly shoaling of jetty causes dredging issues which makes it cheaper to do business in Coos Bay Oregon. Tim explained how solving some of our Coastal Dependent Industrial Zoning issues will help create opportunities for the bay. Tim also informed everyone that Humboldt gets more than its fair share to dredge the main channels and the purchase of a dredge will help relieve the $600,000 just to mobilize a dredge to the bay and acknowledged the Harbor’s Transportation plan for the Peninsula to help with future transportation infrastructure needs. Lastly, Tim spoke about the Sediment disposal plan and the 4 Cruise ships arriving in the next two years.
Greg Pratt from Humboldt Transit Authority identified providing ridership for 1.3 million miles and 850,000 rides a year using 43 buses. Has a lack of funding and hard time finding qualified drivers and mechanics. Approving a Redwood Transit System route study might help consolidate and improve ridership. Making it easy to track rides using smartphones will help ridership in the future also.
Tom Mattson called transportation a “5 Trillion Dollar problem.” Used analogy of trying to repair secondary roads such as Bell Springs when Humboldt is cut off from the rest of the state and how it is nearly impossible to avoid the red tape to fix. “Partnerships with other counties important.” “Really need to focus on lobbying at state level.”
Brian Gerving has 114 miles in Eureka to deal with and a need for about 3million dollars and shortfall of about 2.4million.
Brad Mattam explained condition that Cal Tran District 1 deals with and how lack of population works against us. Brad used example of Industry Standard Trucks not being able to through Richardson Grove costing $900 more per truck. Felt Humboldt needs to tell their story better how this economically affects the North Coast.
Estelle Fennell spoke to the Geological concerns and the 500 million dollars needed for capital repairs in the Eel River Canyons. Estelle would like to see a tourist train track with trails in Humboldt. Estelle thought this would be a good mix with the potential cruise ships on the horizon. She also pointed out that there were ongoing meetings with Senator Mike McGuire to find solutions to the funding issues for the North Coast Rail Authority.
Emily Jacobs identified five Airports in Humboldt County. She talked about the retirement problem airlines were having with pilots. Pilots are no longer considered “glamorous.” Air Service has a lack of Air Service Partnerships and really need Revenue Guarantee. Emily floated the idea to use the industrial sites at the various air ports around the county for rental spaces. Emily also explained how hundreds of potential Humboldt flyers a day drive to other airports to fly to other destinations, usually for price breaks. She explained that there are local resources available for Humboldt flyers to save money and to just contact her for those programs.