Advocates of a proposed rail link between the Sacramento Valley and Eureka received state financial support for a study.
Caltrans announced $276,000 in grants were awarded to Trinity County on Friday to study the possible project.
The idea is being considered primarily to move freight, not people, though possible passenger service will also be evaluated.
Eureka has potential to become a busier port, creating jobs. A new rail line connecting the port with the Union Pacific Railroad in the Valley could fuel such expansion. Even with major improvements, State Route 299 remains a daunting journey for heavy trucks.
Officials say the study will help determine the project’s economic viability.
Rick Tippett, directs the Trinity County Department of Transportation and Planning, the lead agency for the study.
“Really, you have to look at it as, it’s like a hill you have to climb,” Tippett said. “And the first thing you need to do is, you need to find out, is it really worth climbing that hill?”
The Northwestern Pacific once linked Eureka with the nation’s rail network. Low traffic and high maintenance costs kept the line from being very profitable. A major washout in the Eel River Canyon two decades ago was never repaired.