“The Willits Bypass would be a disaster for local wetlands, oak forests and the wildlife that depend on them,” said Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Caltrans has made significant changes to this project without fully evaluating the impacts of bulldozing a freeway through precious wetlands and endangered species’ habitats.”
“The Willits Bypass project is an egregious example of how Caltrans is totally out of touch with the needs of local communities and ecosystems on the North Coast,” said Gary Graham Hughes of EPIC. “We are asking the federal court to halt this project before irreparable damage is done to oak forests and critical aquatic habitats in the headwaters of the Eel River.”
Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration say they are pursuing the bypass on Highway 101 around Willits to ease traffic congestion. The agencies insist on a four-lane freeway and have refused to consider or analyze equally effective two-lane alternatives or in-town solutions. The currently planned project would be a 6-mile, four-lane bypass including several bridges over creeks and roads, a mile-long viaduct spanning the floodplain, and two interchanges.