Skip to main content

California State Route 255 and the Super-Two Freeway on the Samoa Bridge

In this article we examine the history of California State Route 255 and the Humboldt Bay Bridge.


California State Route 255 ("CA 255") is a 9 mile loop of US Route 101 within Humboldt County.  CA 255 originates at US 101 in the City of Eureka and utilizes the three tier Humboldt Bay Bridge northwest to the Samoa Peninsula.  Upon reaching the Samoa Peninsula CA 255 turns northeast back to US 101 in Arcata.



Part 1; the history of California State Route 255

The history of CA 255 is somewhat modern by California State Highway standards.  CA 255 was adopted as part of Legislative Chapter 1898 of 1963 according to CAhighways.org.  Interestingly CA 255 was also assigned Legislative Route 294 but it was effectively nullified by the 1964 State Highway Renumbering.  The original definition of CA 255 was; "Eureka across Humboldt Bay to the Samoa Peninsula."  CA 255 first appears as a planned highway on the 1964 Division of Highway State Map.



Prior to CA 255 automotive access to the Samoa Peninsula was either via ferry or taking a long drive around Arcata Bay.  The Samoa Peninsula traditionally has been the head of what was until recent decades a large lumber industry in Humboldt County.  The community of Samoa has origins back during 1865 when it was settled as the lumber community of Brownsville.  The construction of CA 255 across Humboldt Bay included three structures which are unofficially known as the "Humboldt Bay Bridge."  The Humboldt Bay Bridge in actuality consists of three bridges:

-  The Eureka Channel Bridge at Post Mile 0.20.  The Eureka Channel Bridge is presently named the "Meyer Bistrin Memorial Bridge" which was adopted during 1977.
-   The Middle Channel Bridge at Post Mile 0.67.  The Middle Channel Bridge is presently named the "Carl L. Christensen Memorial Bridge" which was adopted during 1977.
-  The Samoa Channel Bridge at Post Mile 1.37.  The Samoa Channel Bridge is presently named the "Richard R. Denbo Memorial Span" which was adopted during 1980.

During 1970 Legislative Chapter 881 extended the planned route of CA 255 from the Samoa Peninsula back to US 101 in Arcata.  During 1971 the three structures of the Humboldt Bay Bridge opened as the "Samoa Bridge."   The completed CA 255 can be first seen on the 1975 Caltrans State Map.



Part 2; a virtual drive on California State Route 255 northbound

From US 101 northbound CA 255 is accessed by  left hand turn from 5th Street onto R Street in the City of Eureka.  Note; all the below photos are ripped from Google Street View.



Interestingly CA 255 doesn't officially begin until the intersection of R Street and 4th Street (US 101 southbound).  The "Begin" placard below the CA 255 shield is something of a rarity among California State Highways.


CA 255 is signed as a northbound highway and as noted above approaches Eureka Channel Bridge at Post Mile HUM 0.20.  CA 255 over the entirety of the three Humboldt Bay Bridge structures is a limited access Super Two Freeway.





CA 255 crosses Woodley Island and has an Exit accessing Startare Drive.


At Post Mile HUM 0.67 CA 255 begins to cross the Middle Channel Bridge to Indian Island.




CA 255 doesn't have any exits on Indian Island.  Indian Island was the home to about 100 Wiyot tribal members who were massacred by settlers during 1860.  Wiyot Island was home to a ship repair facility between the 1870s until it shuttered during the 1980s.  During October 2019 the City of Eureka gifted the entirety of Indian Island back to the Wiyot Tribe.



At Post Mile HUM 1.37 CA 255 begins to cross the Samoa Channel Bridge to the Samoa Peninsula. 





At Post Mile HUM 2.029 CA 255 north makes a right hand turn onto New Navy Base Road.  New Navy Base Road is named after Naval Auxiliary Airfield Eureka ("NAAF Eureka") which was an auxiliary of Moffett Field.  NAAF Eureka was commissioned during August 1943 and was closed during October 1945.  NAAF Eureka's facilities were converted into Eureka Municipal Airport after World War II.



CA 255 on New Navy Base Road becomes a conventional highway as it continues north on the Samoa Peninsula.  US 101 is signed as 7 miles away in Arcata.



At Post Mile HUM 4.007 CA 255 passes through  the community of Manilla.


At Post Mile HUM R4.855 CA 255 crosses the Oregon & Eureka Railroad and begins to follow it towards Arcata.  At Post Mile HUM R5.13 CA 255 crosses the Mad River Slough Bridge.  


CA 255 briefly expands to four lanes approaching Arcata.



 CA 255 enters Arcata as Samoa Boulevard and terminates at US 101.





Part 2; a drive on California State Route 255 southbound

CA 255 southbound begins from US 101 southbound Exit 713 in the City of Arcata.



CA 255 southbound follows Samoa Boulevard initially west through Arcata.





CA 255 southbound follows the northern banks of Arcata Bay traveling initially westward before turning south upon crossing Mad River Slough at Postmile HUM R5.21.





At Post Mile HUM R4.855 CA 255 crosses the Oregon & Eureka Railroad and enters the community of Manilla via New Navy Base Road.  At Postmile HUM 2.029 CA 255 makes a eastward left hand turn onto the Samoa Bridge.  








The Samoa Cookhouse can be found south of CA 255 by continuing on New Navy Base Road.  


Some of the structures associated with NAAF Eureka can be found in the vicinity of the Samoa Cookhouse.  

The derelict Oregon & Eureka Railroad is easily accessible on the Samoa Peninsula as seen below from the Samoa Cookhouse. 

Some fantastic views looking east towards the Samoa Bridge can be found from Vance Avenue. 

CA 255 southbound crosses the Samoa Channel Bridge from the Samoa Peninsula to Indian Island.  As CA 255 climbs onto the Samoa Channel Bridge there is a placard that notates that it is a freeway.






CA 255 crosses Indian Island and the Middle Channel Bridge to Woodley Island. 





CA 255 southbound crosses Woodley Island and the Eureka Channel Bridge onto R Street in Eureka. 





CA 255 south follows R Street across US 101 southbound at 4th Street and terminates at northbound US 101 at 5th Street. 



Some additional views of the structures comprising the Samoa Bridge can be found through Eureka.  This view can be found from the Waterfront Trail at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center. 

A small marina is located underneath the Samoa Bridge on Waterfront Drive. 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Paper Highways: The Unbuilt New Orleans Bypass (Proposed I-410)

  There are many examples around the United States of proposed freeway corridors in urban areas that never saw the light of day for one reason or another. They all fall somewhere in between the little-known and the infamous and from the mundane to the spectacular. One of the more obscure and interesting examples of such a project is the short-lived idea to construct a southern beltway for the New Orleans metropolitan area in the 1960s and 70s. Greater New Orleans and its surrounding area grew rapidly in the years after World War II, as suburban sprawl encroached on the historically rural downriver parishes around the city. In response to the development of the region’s Westbank and the emergence of communities in St. Charles and St. John the Baptist Parishes as viable suburban communities during this period, regional planners began to consider concepts for new infrastructure projects to serve this growing population.  The idea for a circular freeway around the southern perimeter of t

Hernando de Soto Bridge (Memphis, TN)

The newest of the bridges that span the lower Mississippi River at Memphis, the Hernando de Soto Bridge was completed in 1973 and carries Interstate 40 between downtown Memphis and West Memphis, AR. The bridge’s signature M-shaped superstructure makes it an instantly recognizable landmark in the city and one of the most visually unique bridges on the Mississippi River. As early as 1953, Memphis city planners recommended the construction of a second highway bridge across the Mississippi River to connect the city with West Memphis, AR. The Memphis & Arkansas Bridge had been completed only four years earlier a couple miles downriver from downtown, however it was expected that long-term growth in the metro area would warrant the construction of an additional bridge, the fourth crossing of the Mississippi River to be built at Memphis, in the not-too-distant future. Unlike the previous three Mississippi River bridges to be built the city, the location chosen for this bridge was about two

Memphis & Arkansas Bridge (Memphis, TN)

  Like the expansion of the railroads the previous century, the modernization of the country’s highway infrastructure in the early and mid 20th Century required the construction of new landmark bridges along the lower Mississippi River (and nation-wide for that matter) that would facilitate the expected growth in overall traffic demand in ensuing decades. While this new movement had been anticipated to some extent in the Memphis area with the design of the Harahan Bridge, neither it nor its neighbor the older Frisco Bridge were capable of accommodating the sharp rise in the popularity and demand of the automobile as a mode of cross-river transportation during the Great Depression. As was the case 30 years prior, the solution in the 1940s was to construct a new bridge in the same general location as its predecessors, only this time the bridge would be the first built exclusively for vehicle traffic. This bridge, the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge, was completed in 1949 and was the third