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
A 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
A large retaining wall will soon be completed near the new south interchange of the Willits Bypass. The unique redwood cone pattern was developed for this project as part of Caltrans’ use of context sensitive design. Continue reading
The Willits City Council has asked Caltrans representatives to cancel its Willits Bypass Project update scheduled for August 28.
Instead, an agenda item has been added to discuss a proposed letter to Governor Brown. Continue reading
Caltrans 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.
Additional work on Route 101 just south of the Haehl Overhead Bridge will begin Wednesday, August 14. Work hours are 6:30AM to 6PM, weekdays. Intermittent full road closures will be in effect. Motorists should anticipate 10-minute delays. This traffic control is anticipated to occur through September 6.
East Hill Road will be closed to through traffic between Sanhedrin Circle and Cemetery Lane Monday through Friday, 7AM to 7PM and Saturday, 8AM to 5PM. Motorists are advised to seek an alternate route. This closure is scheduled through October 15.
Any questions regarding Willits Bypass construction may be directed to Caltrans at 707-456-1900.
For the most current road information on all State highways, please call 1-800-427-7623 (1-800-GAS-ROAD) or visit www.dot.ca.gov
The installation of wick drains on the north end of the Willits Bypass Project is about 50% complete. Wick drains, formally called vertical drains, allow water saturated clay soils to compact, or settle, more efficiently. When fill is brought in to raise the new highway the existing soil will begin to settle. The wick drains will reduce the time for the soil to settle from as long as ten years down to only six months, reducing maintenance costs that would otherwise be needed to repair the highway as it continued to settle for years. Continue reading
Trees to be placed in streams to improve fish habitat.
Many of the trees removed to construct the Willits Bypass Project have been or will be used to help the local community. Trees will be placed in local streams and creeks to improve fish habitat, reduce erosion, and promote the formation of gravel bars. Caltrans Senior Resource Biologist Chris Collison said, “When the root-wads of these trees are properly placed in creeks they will help to enhance fish habitat and reduce future steambank erosion.” Continue reading