Herbicide meeting cancelled: Herbicide use on blackberries pulled off the table for now

image012aCaltrans has been in discussions with the Willits Bypass Mitigation contractor this past week over the plan to control non-native invasive Himalaya blackberry. It had been anticipated our contractor would include the herbicide option in order to ensure meeting mitigation timeline and performance goals for site preparation and establishing native wetland plants, but instead they recently submitted a plan to attempt to use mechanical/manual methods. As a result, the herbicide meeting scheduled in Willits on August 13 has been cancelled. Continue reading

July, 2015 Update to Willits City Council

WILLITS BYPASS PROJECT
2015 CONSTRUCTION SEASON
JULY 2015 UPDATE

The following is a summary of the construction activities that have been completed up to July 16, 2015

  • Contractor has completed approximately 73 % of work on the project.

Southern Segment (Beginning of Project to Center Valley Road) – STA”A”96+00 to 149+00 (3.3 miles):

  • Repair of winter storm damage to slopes is complete.
  • Haehl Creek realignment and fish passage improvement work is complete.
  • Final excavation at the south interchange will be completed this week, with material hauled to the north interchange for embankment. Grading and paving may be completed in October 2015.
  • Right and left bridges for 101/20 Separation are complete, except for concrete barriers, joint seals, and deck grooving. These items of work will not begin until late in 2015 or early 2016.
  • At Haehl Creek, right and left mainline bridges and southbound off-ramp S101/W20 Connector Bridge foundations and abutments are complete. Superstructure construction is in progress at all three, and will be completed in October 2015.
  • Northbound onramp E20/N101 Connector Bridge is complete, except for concrete barriers, joint seals, and deck grooving.
  • East Hill Road Undercrossing Bridge is complete except for concrete barriers, joints, and deck grooving.
  • North Haehl Creek Bridge is complete except for concrete barriers, joint seals, and deck grinding.
  • Pond relocation at Rutledge property is complete.
  • Embankment between shell lane and Center Valley Road is in complete. Drainage structures, final grading, and paving may be complete in October 2015.
  • Baechtel Creek Retaining Wall is complete. Concrete barrier, backfill and embankment will be completed in 2015.
  • Erosion control materials are being installed, monitored and maintained at all locations. Final erosion control work will be completed in September and October, 2015
  • New additional drainage structures at Center Valley Road are under construction and will be completed in July.

Continue reading

Water Board’s Response to Coyote Band of Pomo

waterboards_logo_high_resThis letter was sent July 16, 2015 from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board to the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo in response to a letter sent by Coyote Valley on May 26, 2015. The full text of the letter is posted below, and a signed PDF of the letter is available for download.

 

North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board

July 16, 2015

Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians
Attn: Michael Hunter
P.O. Box 39
Redwood Valley, CA 95470
tribalchairman@coyotevalley-nsn.gov

Dear Mr. Hunter:

Subject: May 26, 2015, Letter to Regional Water Board regarding the Caltrans Willits Bypass Project

Files: Highway 101 – Willits Bypass Project
WDID No. 1B10019WNME
ECM PIN No.: CW-750104

Thank you for taking the time to send the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) your letter dated May 26, 2015. We apologize for the late response, as it appears the letter was delayed in transit. The letter’s envelope included a stamp date of June 5, but did not get processed in San Francisco until June 18, and did not arrive at our office until June 22. The letter expresses concern with the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) treatment of cultural resources on the Willits Bypass Project and the lack of cultural resource protection in the Willits Bypass State Mitigation and Monitoring Plan (MMP). The letter also expresses significant concern with Caltrans’s plan to use herbicide to control Himalayan blackberry on the Willits Bypass Project mitigation lands. Continue reading

Save the Date: Public Meeting to Discuss Herbicide Use

Black Berries 02Caltrans will host a public meeting to discuss the use of herbicides on the Willits Bypass mitigation parcels.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, August 13, 2015 at the Willits Community Center, 111 East Commercial Street, tentatively from 6PM to 8PM.

More meeting  details will be provided over the next few weeks.

Preliminary details of the need for herbicide use can be found in a previous post, “Eliminating invasive blackberry on Willits Bypass mitigation parcels.”

June, 2015 Update to Willits City Council

WILLITS BYPASS PROJECT
2015 CONSTRUCTION SEASON
JUNE 2015 UPDATE

 

The following is a summary of the construction activities that have been completed up to June 20, 2015

  • Contractor has completed approximately 70 % of work on the project.

Southern Segment (Beginning of Project to Center Valley Road) – STA”A”96+00 to 149+00 (3.3 miles):

The south interchange.

The south interchange.

  • Repair of winter storm damage to slopes is complete.
  • Haehl Creek realignment and fish passage improvement work is complete.
  • Final excavation and grading at the south interchange is in progress. Paving may be complete in October 2015.
  • Right and left bridges for 101/20 Separation are complete, except for concrete barriers, joint seals, and deck grooving. These items of work will not begin until late in 2015 or early 2016.
  • At Haehl Creek, right and left mainline bridges and southbound off-ramp S101/W20 Connector Bridge foundations and abutments are complete. Superstructure construction is in progress at all three, and will be completed in October 2015.
  • Northbound onramp E20/N101 Connector Bridge is complete, except for concrete barriers, joint seals, and deck grooving.
  • East Hill Road Undercrossing Bridge is complete except for concrete barriers, joints, and deck grooving.
  • North Haehl Creek Bridge is complete except for concrete barriers, joint seals, and deck grinding.
  • Pond relocation at Rutledge property is complete.
  • Embankment and grading between shell lane and Center Valley Road is in progress. Paving may be complete in October 2015.
  • Baechtel Creek Retaining Wall is complete. Concrete barrier, backfill and embankment will be completed in 2015.
  • Erosion control materials are being monitored and maintained at all locations. Final erosion control work will be completed in September and October, 2015

Continue reading

Willits Bypass Update to City Council – Project 2/3 completed

CT_logoCaltrans provided the following written update to the Willits City Council for their April 22 meeting:

WILLITS BYPASS PROJECT
2015 CONSTRUCTION SEASON
April 2015 UPDATE

The following is a summary of the construction activities that have been completed up to April 17, 2015

  • Contractor has completed approximately 67% of work on the project.

Southern Segment (Beginning of Project to Center Valley Road) – STA”A”96+00 to 149+00 (3.3 miles):

  • Repair to winter damage slopes near the south interchange is complete.
  • Construction of crossover detour for northbound freeway traffic to U1 line is complete.
  • Haehl Creek realignment and fish passage improvement work is complete.
  • An active treatment system has been installed and is being operated during storms to remove turbidity from storm water run-off.
  • Right and Left bridges for 101/20 Separation are complete, except for concrete barriers, joint seals, and deck grooving. These items of work will not begin until late in 2015 or early 2016.
  • Haehl Creek Bridge foundations and abutments are complete.  Due to a short work window and temporary suspension of Corps permit in June 2014, work on Haehl Creek Bridges is suspended and will resume in June 2015, and be completed in October 2015.
  • Northbound onramp E20/N101 Connector Bridge is complete, except for concrete barriers, joint seals, and deck grooving.
  • East Hill Road Undercrossing Bridge is complete except for concrete barriers, joints, and deck grooving.
  • North Haehl Creek Bridge is complete except for concrete barriers, joint seals, and deck grinding.
  • Pond relocation at Rutledge property is complete.
  • Baechtel Creek Retaining Wall is complete. Concrete barrier, backfill and embankment will be completed in 2015.
  • Embankment between Haehl Creek and Center Valley Road started, but is suspended until summer 2015.
  • Erosion control materials are being monitored and maintained at all locations.

Continue reading

Supplemental Funds for the Willits Bypass Project

image003

Flatiron West, Inc. employees placing concrete on a section of the viaduct on January 6, 2015.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) went before the California Transportation Commission (CTC) on December 10, 2014 to request $64.7 million in supplemental funds to complete the construction of the Willits Bypass project.  The funds were unanimously approved.

One of Caltrans’ many goals is to responsibly manage California’s transportation assets.  In order to keep the community informed to the greatest extent possible, the following is a synopsis of issues surrounding the necessity for additional funding.  The project has encountered numerous challenges during the first two years of construction which have increased costs and delayed completion of the project by approximately two years.  The following have contributed to the $64.7 million in supplemental costs.

IMG_0929

Caltrans and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff meet at the project worksite on January 28, 2014.

Environmental Regulation

Due to unforeseen circumstances, some permitting agencies added additional requirements after project bid opening.  Some of the changes included, stricter bird survey protocols, increased mitigation, Oil Well Hill borrow site final permit delays, temporary permit suspension, and increased erosion control measures including the installation of an active water treatment system at the south interchange.  Caltrans personnel are also assessing a potential redesign of the north interchange. Continue reading

Eliminating invasive blackberry on Willits Bypass mitigation parcels

image012aLetters were recently sent to three local tribes in Mendocino County notifying them of a need to use herbicides to remove non-native invasive Himalayan blackberry plants from Willits Bypass mitigation parcels.  Caltrans had anticipated using manual methods to eradicate 32 targeted invasive plants growing on mitigation parcels.   Included in those targeted plants is Himalayan blackberry, but the accelerated time schedule negotiated with the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) as part of the reinstatement of a permit no longer makes this possible.  It would require a minimum of 5 to 7 years to eradicate the invasive Himalayan blackberry growing on 67 acres using manual methods, but Caltrans does not have that long to complete the establishment of native plants to meet our commitments to the Corps. Continue reading

Caltrans goes above and beyond bypass mitigation requirements in the Little Lake Valley

A logjam along Outlet Creek mixed with accumulated trash.

A logjam along Outlet Creek mixed with accumulated trash.

Last fall (2013), Caltrans Maintenance crews and Environmental staff, working with California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff, removed log jams in two areas along Outlet Creek to the north of the Willits Bypass Project area. The logjams totaled about 400’ in length, and the cleanup required hundreds of cubic yards of logs, brush, and trash to be removed from the streambed. The logs and other woody debris were then ground up into mulch by a large grinder brought onsite to be used for the bypass project. It is likely these logjams had prevented fish from reaching spawning grounds within the Little Lake Valley for years.

A logjam forming a dam along Outlet Creek.

A logjam forming a dam along Outlet Creek.

Continue reading

October 2014 Willits Bypass Update To Willits City Council

Caltrans staff provided a written update to the Willits City Council on October 22 on the status of the Willits Bypass.  The complete text is provided below.

WILLITS BYPASS PROJECT

2014 CONSTRUCTION SEASON

OCTOBER 2014 UPDATE

The south interchange, looking southwest towards existing US Highway 101

The south interchange, looking southwest towards existing US Highway 101

The following is a summary of the construction activities that have been completed up to October 17, 2014 (Refer to Attachment No. 1 for Project Map).

  • Contractor has completed approximately 50% of the work.

Southern Segment (Beginning of Project to Center Valley Road) – STA”A”96+00 to 149+00 (3.3 miles):

  • Rock blanket on excavated slopes (U1 slope) is complete.
  • Construction of crossover detour for northbound freeway traffic to U1 line is complete.
  • Haehl Creek realignment and fish passage improvement work is complete.
  • 101/20 Separation and Haehl Creek Bridges foundations are complete, abutments are complete, 101/20 superstructures anticipate November 2014 completion. Due to short work window and temporary suspension of Corps permit in June 2014, work on Haehl Creek Bridges is suspended and will resume next June 2015 and be complete in October 2015.
  • Northbound onramp E20/N101 Connector Bridge is complete, except for concrete barrier rails.
  • North Haehl Creek Bridge is complete, work on approaches is suspended until spring 2015.
  • Pond relocation at Rutledge property is complete.
  • Baechtel Creek retaining wall is complete, backfill and embankment will be completed in 2015.
  • Embankment between Haehl Creek and Center Valley Road started, but is suspended until 2015.
  • Erosion control is being installed at all locations.

Continue reading