Work Ramps Back Up at the Willits Bypass for the 2014 Season

Temporary piles being delivered on April 8 at the south end of the viaduct. These piles will help support the falsework (concrete form) that shapes the various parts of the viaduct.

Temporary piles being delivered on April 8 at the south end of the viaduct. These piles will help support the falsework (concrete form) that shapes the various parts of the viaduct.

This week work began to ramp back up at the Willits Bypass Project.  Work is beginning to construct the southern half of the viaduct and eight bridges south of the viaduct which includes the six bridges that help form the southern interchange.  Work will include driving piles and constructing more viaduct columns. There will eventually be traffic control required on some local streets which run under the bypass, and Caltrans will release details in advance to alert the public. Continue reading

Groundwater and the Willits Bypass Project

Aerial photo

Aerial photo of Little Lake Valley from Google Maps

On January 29, 2014, an article was published in The Willits News (TWN) written by Linda Williams titled Groundwater in Little Lake Valley. Caltrans would like to expand on some of the facts in this article and relate them to water usage at the Willits Bypass Project. The above article seems to draw much of its information from a California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) document last updated in 2004.

Groundwater reserves in the Little Lake Valley (LLV) have been determined by past state and federal studies to be “substantial and mostly untapped” as TWN article puts it. These studies have estimated the LLV contains from 35,000 to 91,000 acre-feet of water. An acre-foot of water is equal to about 325,851 gallons. Using the most conservative estimate of 35,000 acre-feet means there are at least 11 billion gallons of groundwater available in the LLV. The Willits Bypass Project used about 4 million gallons of groundwater last season, which is about 0.04% of the estimated available groundwater in the LLV. Continue reading

Breaking News: Caltrans Issues Statement In Response to Willits Bypass Lawsuit

willits_childrenSACRAMENTO–In response to today’s decision by U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White ruling in favor of Caltrans in a lawsuit that challenged construction of a highway bypass project near Willits, California, Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty issued the following statement:

“Caltrans takes seriously its responsibility to preserve the species and habitats on these lands and we are pleased that the judge rejected this lawsuit. This project eliminates a chronic traffic bottleneck while enhancing fisheries and hundreds of acres of local wetlands.”

For the latest information about the environmental improvements and the Willits Bypass Project, please visit willitsbypass.wordpress.com.

# # #

A copy of the ruling is available for download

Information About Soil Removed From Former Mill Site For Willits Bypass Project

Every major project Caltrans develops follows a rigorous process of environmental consideration and review that directly shapes every aspect of a project, and that process continues through construction.

Caltrans and its contractors have ensured that soil removed from a former lumber mill, currently owned by Mendocino Forest Products, is free from contamination that would make it unsuitable for fill at the Willits Bypass Project.  During an environmental assessment conducted in 2008, PCP and other chlorinated phenols associated with potential use of wood treatment chemicals were not detected. Limited detections of dioxins were identified in soil but in relatively low concentrations compared to applicable regulatory screening criteria.  Caltrans is not aware of any activities which have occurred on the site since 2008 which would have changed the conclusions of the environmental assessment.

Additional soil testing was performed in March of 2013.  The soil was tested for compaction properties and for basic contaminants. One test sample tested high in chromium, and soil was not removed near that location.  Some samples tested positive for diesel fuel, but in such a low concentration that it did not rule out its use. Continue reading

Caltrans Investigating Cultural Resource Disturbance

willits_valley_2A cultural resource was unintentionally disturbed recently at the Willits Bypass Project, and Caltrans takes this occurrence very seriously. When Caltrans staff became aware that a cultural site was within our construction area, work at that location was immediately stopped, and the disturbance is under investigation. The Sherwood Valley Rancheria Chairman and their consultant were notified and provided with details of the steps taken to secure the area from further disturbances.  Here’s what we know so far: nothing has been removed except for a core sample used in originally identifying the site.

Caltrans works hard statewide to protect cultural resources on all our projects.  Our employees are upset by this disturbance since they work so hard, and go to such great lengths, in their effort to ensure this does not happen. For this project, there are six cultural monitors working alongside active construction, with authority to temporarily halt work if required, to protect cultural resources. Continue reading

Caltrans To Make Monthly Presentations At Willits City Council Meeting

Moving soil from the west side of Route 101 near the future south interchange.

Moving soil from the west side of Route 101 near the future south interchange.

Beginning at the August 28 Willits City Council meeting, Caltrans representatives will provide the council with a monthly update on the construction of the Willits Bypass project,  and answer questions from the council.  The monthly updates will continue through the completion of construction, during each construction season. Caltrans Project Manager Mauricio Serrano said, “We look forward to keeping the Willits City Council up to date on this important regional project.”

Hotline Available For East Hill Road Closure

callCaltrans has set up a hotline to get the latest information on the daytime full road closures of East Hill Road.  The hotline, 707-456-1901, will be updated daily with the scheduled closure.  Caltrans appreciates the community’s patience while we complete moving soil across East Hill Road.  The full road closures, from 7AM to 7PM, Monday through Saturday, are anticipated through October 15.