A multi-use trail for this right of way has been studied, analyzed, reviewed and considered for the past decade and a half.
There was a Humboldt County Bicycle Facilities Feasibility Study in 1997. In 2001 it was dubbed a priority project by the Humboldt Bay Trail Feasibility Study. The California Coastal Trail plan reaffirmed that in 2003 and again in 2011. Meanwhile, during 2005-7, the National Park Service led a planning effort that spawned the Humboldt Bay Trail Feasibility Study: Arcata-Eureka, which concluded that using the current rail footprint would be considerably cheaper than other trail alternatives.
The North Coast Railroad Authority issued its own trail guidelines in 2008, and Arcata has followed those guidelines in its proposal to complete the Arcata-Bracut section of trail. The city plans to seek funding for that stretch after it gets railroad authority and other approvals.