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Regional Boards => Pacific Southwest => Topic started by: andy3175 on June 04, 2012, 08:45:46 PM

Title: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: andy3175 on June 04, 2012, 08:45:46 PM
http://www.sacbee.com/2012/06/04/4535558/dan-walters-environmentalists.html

Quote
In 2007, a six-mile "Willits bypass" to carry vehicles around the eastern edge of the town was on the verge of gaining state financing, but at the last moment, Los Angeles politicians pressured the state Transportation Commission for more money, and the Willits project was put aside.

Finally, however, the project was resuscitated, in no small measure due to the local congressman, Democrat Mike Thompson. In February, he announced that all permits for the bypass had been obtained, despite criticism from environmentalists.

"The mood of the downtown merchants is that they are looking forward to having their Main Street back where they will have more control over the design of the streetscape," Willits city official Alan Fallerri said.

Well, maybe not.

A coalition of environmental groups has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the adequacy of the permitting process, and calling it "a wake-up call for Caltrans, which should be building efficient public transit and maintaining existing roads rather than wasting our money and resources clinging to outdated visions of new freeways."


The comments are especially interesting to read.

Regards,
Andy
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: J N Winkler on June 06, 2012, 10:33:48 AM
The Willits Bypass was advertised for construction a couple of weeks ago:

http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/esc/oe/project_ads_addenda/01/01-262004/
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: nexus73 on June 07, 2012, 10:31:16 PM
The way the environmentalists think, if we let them have their way, we would never build any new roads anywhere.  There has been no substantial earthshaking economically devastating damage caused by prior 101 NorCal freeway bypasses but there sure have been some big hits taken by taxpayers in dealing with all the enviromentalist lawsuits.

Rick
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: on_wisconsin on June 08, 2012, 06:40:47 PM
The Willits Bypass was advertised for construction a couple of weeks ago:

http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/esc/oe/project_ads_addenda/01/01-262004/
Do you a have link to the actual construction plans beacuse every thing I click on at that link is an EIS or RoD related document.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: myosh_tino on June 08, 2012, 07:24:22 PM
The Willits Bypass was advertised for construction a couple of weeks ago:

http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/esc/oe/project_ads_addenda/01/01-262004/
Do you a have link to the actual construction plans beacuse every thing I click on at that link is an EIS or RoD related document.
Click on the link, then "Plans", then "As Advertised" to get to the project plans.  Caltrans breaks up their plans into 100-page blocks with each block being about 25 MB in size so make sure you have a relatively fast internet connection (it's barely bearable at 1.5 Mbit DSL).
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: TheStranger on September 07, 2012, 06:17:55 PM
US 101 Willits bypass now slated for construction in 2013:

http://www.willitsnews.com/ci_21490711/caltrans-awards-contract-build-willits-bypass
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: brad2971 on September 07, 2012, 08:09:07 PM
http://www.sacbee.com/2012/06/04/4535558/dan-walters-environmentalists.html

Quote
In 2007, a six-mile "Willits bypass" to carry vehicles around the eastern edge of the town was on the verge of gaining state financing, but at the last moment, Los Angeles politicians pressured the state Transportation Commission for more money, and the Willits project was put aside.

Finally, however, the project was resuscitated, in no small measure due to the local congressman, Democrat Mike Thompson. In February, he announced that all permits for the bypass had been obtained, despite criticism from environmentalists.

"The mood of the downtown merchants is that they are looking forward to having their Main Street back where they will have more control over the design of the streetscape," Willits city official Alan Fallerri said.

Well, maybe not.

A coalition of environmental groups has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the adequacy of the permitting process, and calling it "a wake-up call for Caltrans, which should be building efficient public transit and maintaining existing roads rather than wasting our money and resources clinging to outdated visions of new freeways."


The comments are especially interesting to read.

Regards,
Andy


Yes, the comments are "interesting" in their worthlessness. Which is par-for-the-course for ANY Dan Walters column. Not to get too much off on a tangent, but the CA GOP (in its diminished state) performed one of their smartest political moves in the last 20 years by kicking that bastion of sanctimonious nostalgia known as Tom McClintock "upstairs" to DC. Seems to me that Dan Walters could use another such relocation.

As for the Willits bypass, seems to me Dan and his commenters should look at a map of 101 through Mendocino. Seems to need more than just a bypass of Willits to me.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: Scott5114 on September 09, 2012, 06:44:17 PM
Comments on road-related news articles are generally not worth the pixels they're displayed on.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: NE2 on October 18, 2012, 08:52:44 PM
Is the visible grading here part of an aborted previous attempt to build it? http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=39.38105,-123.33063&z=16&t=O
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: J N Winkler on October 19, 2012, 12:00:35 AM
Is the visible grading here part of an aborted previous attempt to build it?

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=39.38105,-123.33063&z=16&t=O

It is on the line of the bypass and original ground is suspiciously close to the profile line in the relevant area (roughly station 100 to station 110).  So, yes, I would say it is almost certainly rough grading done in anticipation of the bypass.  However, I don't think it is necessarily evidence a previous attempt to build the bypass was aborted.  The grading might have been done decades ago under a previous contract to secure earthworks balance, with no expectation that the next segment north would be tied up in an EIS process.

BTW, much of the graded area overlaps what will be the US 101/SR 20 interchange when the bypass is finished.  SR 20 is being re-routed south of Willits substantially on the present US 101 alignment, and will connect with the bypass alignment at the north-to-west curve shown in the map extract.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: andy3175 on September 07, 2013, 08:00:53 PM
Update: work on the Willits Bypass of U.S. 101 began and has been controversial, with several arrests for protests once construction began. The project limits begin about 0.8 miles south of Haehl Creek Overhead and end about 1.8 miles south of Reynolds Highway, a distance of approximately 5.9 miles. It will be constructed as a two-lane bypass to begin and may be expanded as funding is identified.

Some resources online include the official Caltrans project site:

http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist1/d1projects/willits/index.htm

http://willitsbypass.wordpress.com/ (has a map showing the proposed route)

Quote
The Willits Bypass Project is still a four-lane bypass, but it is being built in two phases due to competitive funding with other highway projects. This first phase will build the full four-lane Route 20 interchange on the south end of Willits, two lanes of the north interchange, and the southbound lanes in between. The second phase will be built as soon as additional funding becomes available.

Quote
There have been a number of protestors arrested who were trespassing within the construction area, and we feel it is important to highlight some important facts. Caltrans respects the rights of those who peacefully protest, and we have a responsive public input component as part of every major project we develop intended to gather divergent view points. The Willits Bypass project is currently in its construction phase, and we now have a responsibility to conduct a safe work zone. During the development phase of this project, many public input meetings were held with the majority of public comments received in favor of the project.

A TV news channel posted this story, which opines that the money used to construct the Willits US 101 bypass could be more effectively used elsewhere in the state. Having been trapped in several long lines in Willits personally in the mid-1990s and again in 2006, I am not sure I agree that this project is not needed, but I understand and get the environmental sensitivity of this beautiful area:

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/assignment_7&id=9200558

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Months of protests have slowed down a controversial Caltrans project, but construction has not stopped. A multi-million dollar freeway is being built on sensitive wetlands in an area that just doesn't have many cars.

...

Willits is 135 miles north of San Francisco on Highway 101 -- the major route north to Eureka.

Frisbie says, "It's considered by many to be the lifeline to the north coast."

That may be true, but by the time Highway 101 goes through Willits, there are only about 8,000 vehicles a day on the road. Caltrans wants to build a four-lane freeway designed to carry roughly 5,000 vehicles an hour. That's $300 million for six miles of freeway, all designed to bypass a bottleneck where 101 turns into Main Street.

Willits City Council member Ron Orenstein says there are often "two lanes of traffic heading north, just gridlocked." He supports Caltrans' plan. There is no question something needs to be done, but others say Caltrans' solution is way too expensive and does too much damage to sensitive wetlands.

City Council member Madge Strong says, "It's too destructive and it only serves a very, very small segment of the traffic."

Critics point to the bottleneck. Caltrans data shows 70 percent of it is locals just driving around town, so most of the cars there won't even use the bypass. To get an idea of who would drive on the bypass, looked at photos from Caltrans' own traffic cameras on Highway 101 north of Willits. Caltrans data shows 60 percent of those vehicles are driving through Willits, so the area is closer to the level of traffic that might be expected on the bypass. Most of the pictures show just a few cars or none at all on the road.

The project opponents also have opposition webpage: http://www.savelittlelakevalley.org/. Note that protesters have been fighting to stop the project in various ways, including blocking construction trucks on Sept 5th as documented by this site:

Quote
Two brave young local residents, who are going by “Feather” and “Earthworm,” have locked themselves to a truck hauling soil to the Little Lake wetlands, at the intersection of Commercial Ave. and Main St. As of this writing, the truck has been immobilized by this direct action for more than 90 minutes. The lock-down blocked traffic in the northbound lane for nearly a half-hour before the police arrived, including an estimated 20 dump trucks.

The lock-down is currently surrounded by roughly 10 California Highway Patrol officers and a handful of Willits Police, with a crowd of supporters (and some detractors) watching from the sidewalk.

Danielle “Feather” Fristo is a 26-year-old lifelong Mendocino County resident and co-owner of Roadhouse Music: one of many Willits businesses that would be gravely harmed by the Bypass. Roughly one quarter of the company’s business comes from people traveling through town, whose cars would be diverted to the new six-mile section of freeway.

“Earthworm” is also a lifelong Mendocino County resident.

Another opposition webpage can be found at http://www.saverichardsongrove.org/other-caltrans-projects/willits-bypass/ and http://www.saverichardsongrove.org/about/the-problem/roads/, which states:

Quote
Caltrans is proposing to spend $210 million to bulldoze a six-mile, four-lane freeway the size of Interstate 5 around the community of Willits, in Mendocino County, California. The project would cause unnecessary environmental damage to the Little Lake Valley and its increasingly rare wetlands, salmon-bearing streams and endangered plants. The Little Lake Valley is then drained by Outlet Creek, a mighty 130-mile headwaters tributary of the Eel River, and provides the longest remaining run for the endangered Coho salmon of any river tributary in California. The project would fill more than 86 acres of wetlands and require the largest wetlands fill permit in Northern California in the last 50 years!

Caltrans’ antiquated project is not needed for the traffic volumes through Willits. A 1998 Caltrans study found that 70-80 percent of traffic causing congestion in downtown Willits was local traffic; the bypass would only divert 20%-30% of Willits’ Main Street traffic.
There are alternatives to reduce traffic congestion in Willits including: internal street connections, bike paths, safe crosswalks, improved intersection performance, and better local public transit that would be able serve the needs of the interregional traffic and reduce construction impacts, time, and cost. EPIC joined conservation partners in filing a lawsuit in April 2012 challenging the Willits Bypass. Caltrans must consider alternatives that do not fill wetlands, harm endangered species and respects the local community.

Quote
Highway 101 is NOT Interstate 5.  We do not need, want, or can afford larger, heavier trucks on Highway 101, in our neighborhoods, or on our local roads.

Regards,
Andy
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: Mdcastle on September 07, 2013, 08:45:28 PM
This seems to be the Stillwater Bridge of the west. Too bad I'll never get to use it if it's ever completed.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: Mdcastle on September 17, 2013, 01:59:49 PM
(http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3675/9787527111_fbdb024076_z.jpg)
(http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5465/9787730724_60c8b93405_z.jpg)
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: agentsteel53 on October 01, 2013, 04:50:59 PM
something is needed, but not a four-lane freeway.  simply fixing traffic light phasings, and restriping some lanes to be more intuitive, should really help things.

I was there on an unremarkable Friday afternoon around 3pm a couple of weeks ago, and it took me about 25 minutes to get through one mile of road, due to the abrupt drop from four to two lanes just after the first traffic light into town.  traffic was getting through the light, and - due to the universal inability of people to execute a zipper merge - coming to a dead stop.  thus, the light itself was cycling but no one was getting through.  changing that light to a "ramp meter" style situation would actually fix most of the problem.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: nexus73 on October 01, 2013, 08:33:02 PM
something is needed, but not a four-lane freeway.  simply fixing traffic light phasings, and restriping some lanes to be more intuitive, should really help things.

I was there on an unremarkable Friday afternoon around 3pm a couple of weeks ago, and it took me about 25 minutes to get through one mile of road, due to the abrupt drop from four to two lanes just after the first traffic light into town.  traffic was getting through the light, and - due to the universal inability of people to execute a zipper merge - coming to a dead stop.  thus, the light itself was cycling but no one was getting through.  changing that light to a "ramp meter" style situation would actually fix most of the problem.

I disagree completely.  Having been in Willets last April, when it is hardly the height of tourist season, the town was totally congested, worse than any other small town on the coast other than Seaside OR.  Coincidentally those folks opposed a bypass proposed by ODOT and guess what?  They're still jammed up there.

Like I said, if bypasses killed towns on 101, then McKinleyville, Arcata, Fortuna, Garberville, Ukiah and Cloverdale would all be ghost towns.  THEY MOST CERTAINLY ARE NOT! I have been through and past those towns going on 38 years and have seen plenty of before and after.  The Willets Bypass should have been built decades ago.  CalTrans has always approached 101 in a bandaid fashion instead of a systemic one. 

Rick
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: agentsteel53 on October 01, 2013, 09:29:48 PM
I disagree completely.  Having been in Willets last April, when it is hardly the height of tourist season, the town was totally congested, worse than any other small town on the coast other than Seaside OR.  Coincidentally those folks opposed a bypass proposed by ODOT and guess what?  They're still jammed up there.

I was there on Memorial Day weekend and it was pretty bad, but I don't think it was quite so bad that a two-lane bypass would have been insufficient.

the major problem is that 101@20 light.  the fact that, due to a railroad, there are only two north-south roads through the town, does not help matters.  build a few more through north-south roads to disperse the traffic - a solution similar to Tecate, Baja Cal, and everything thins out.

Quote
Arcata

speaking of Arcata - that random 50mph segment of dead straight perfectly good four-lane needs to be resigned as 65.  what politican got his assy little fingers into that one?  it certainly doesn't seem to be the result of a legitimate engineering study.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: andy3175 on October 01, 2013, 11:42:23 PM
The initial Willits Bypass is under construction as a two-lane limited access facility. If fully built, it will be interesting to see how that affects the traffic through downtown Willits, which will still have California State Route 20 passing through. I suspect old US 101 and downtown Willits will be less congested but still see traffic due to its role as a major stop for services along the highway.

And having been in several lengthy delays passing through Willits going back to the 1990s, I agree that the band-aid approach has resulted in a roadblock in Willits. Taking through traffic out of town will help make the downtown area more pedestrian friendly, which I imagine is a goal desired by some in the community ... but obviously this goal is not shared by everyone if the bypass is opposed locally.

Regards,
Andy
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: nexus73 on October 02, 2013, 12:09:36 PM
For agentsteel: http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist1/d1projects/eureka_arcata/

That will give CalTrans' explanation of the 101 section between Eureka and Arcata.  It is an expressway that got designated as a Safety Corridor, thus the 50 MPH limit and resulting heavy enforcement.

Amazing isn't it, that such a project has dragged on longer than World War II.  We built the entire Alcan Highway in less than one year.  Once again procedure and bureaucracy combined with NIMBYism rules the day to ensure obsolete roads stay that way for as long as possible.

Rick
Title: Willits Bypass Faces More issues US-101
Post by: bing101 on June 24, 2014, 10:48:28 AM
http://abc7news.com/traffic/caltrans-willits-bypass-faces-more-setbacks/135499/

Some parts of the US-101 Construction site has Native American artifacts


Mod Note: Merged this recent topic into an existing thread about the Willits Bypass. --roadfro
Title: Re: Willits Bypass Faces More issues US-101
Post by: nexus73 on June 24, 2014, 01:48:32 PM
Read what the locals have to say about the 101 Willets Bypass.  Their comments are towards the bottom of this webpage:

http://abc7news.com/traffic/water-quality-violations-reported-at-caltrans-project-near-willits/107034/

Rick
Title: Re: Willits Bypass Faces More issues US-101
Post by: TheStranger on June 24, 2014, 04:09:12 PM
Read what the locals have to say about the 101 Willets Bypass.  Their comments are towards the bottom of this webpage:

http://abc7news.com/traffic/water-quality-violations-reported-at-caltrans-project-near-willits/107034/

Rick

Very fascinating to see so much local support for a CalTrans project (and their highlighting of how a Bay Area news outlet is handling it in comparison).

Title: Re: Willits Bypass Faces More issues US-101
Post by: nexus73 on June 24, 2014, 08:38:31 PM
Read what the locals have to say about the 101 Willets Bypass.  Their comments are towards the bottom of this webpage:

http://abc7news.com/traffic/water-quality-violations-reported-at-caltrans-project-near-willits/107034/

Rick

Very fascinating to see so much local support for a CalTrans project (and their highlighting of how a Bay Area news outlet is handling it in comparison).



If you could see what a jammed up mess of traffic the small town of Willets deals with, you'd support that bypass too.  It's awful!  During the last decade the bypass had been agreed to by the various  regional governments working together, then CalTrans yanked the funding because of pressure from the Bay Area and SoCal for their road projects funding, leaving all those who worked on getting the t's crossed and i's dotted feeling like the carpet had been yanked from beneath their feet.

Tha being said, it's also obvious that CalTrans has screwed the pooch on the wetlands mitigation schedule, the contractor messed up bigtime on the Indian artifacts and some water got dirty that wasn't supposed to.  Oh well, it's the government at work...LOL! 

Whadda mess :-(

Rick   
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: billtm on June 25, 2014, 02:17:20 PM
Will this be a super-two or will it have at grade intersections? :confused:
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: nexus73 on June 25, 2014, 04:02:24 PM
Super-2 for the northern section with twinning to follow is how I understand the deal.

Rick
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: andy3175 on July 10, 2014, 12:35:27 AM
Caltrans suspended work on the Willits bypass due to several infractions associated with environmental work. The following link gives a comprehensive summary of key dates in the development of the US 101 bypass, with some key excerpts below:

http://www.willitsnews.com/localnews/ci_26088731/willits-bypass-timeline-2002-present

Quote
Many in the community question agency concerns about preservation of wetlands; after all, for them the Little Lake Valley isn't that unique.

The Clean Water Act was a game changer on many fronts and subsequent court cases expanded its reach to include wetlands. Just as Americans, prior to the Cuyahoga River catching fire in 1969, systematically undervalued clean air and clean water; most Americans did not understand the role of wetlands in preserving wildlife habitat, flood protection and water purity.

Wetlands were drained so effectively the US Geological Survey estimates wetland acreage in California is currently less than 10 percent of wetlands available in 1890.

It is likely Little Lake Valley would have been reduced to "former wetlands status" following World War II had the demand for agriculture in the valley not dried up first.

Quote
This means CalTrans knew when it proposed putting a freeway through our valley there would be a down side. It seems likely the cost and aggravation of this downside has been higher than CalTrans allowed for.

Quote
March 1, 2010: CalTrans submitted permit applications to the Water Board and US Army Corps of Engineers. The applications indicated the project would create 33.4 acres of new wetlands, restore 5.96 acres of wetlands, enhance 1,032.9 acres of existing wetlands and preserve 1,122.11 acres of wetlands. This proposal replaced CalTrans earlier plans to create 65 acres of new wetlands.

CalTrans insisted at that time it had no responsibility to share its mitigation plans with the public. The Regional Water Quality Control Board and the US Army Corps of Engineers overruled CalTrans and insisted the mitigation plans be made public.

April 2010: All bypass roadway construction drawings and specifications were complete and ready for bid.

With the roadway project design and right of way acquisition on schedule, CalTrans environmental representatives were under increasing pressure to resolve the permits and avoid delaying the bypass project, again.

This new mitigation plan led to a $14.7 million windfall for local property owners when CalTrans decided to purchase the more than 2,000 acres of "mitigation properties." CalTrans committed to purchase these properties without any clear agreement with the regulatory agencies about what the mitigation would look like.

Some CalTrans representatives at the time expressed the view it should be enough that the 2,000 acres was in state hands and exempt from future development. Some CalTrans representatives advised land owners they would be allowed to lease back their former property for grazing cattle in perpetuity. While CalTrans agents told cattle owners this, the actual leases included language allowing CalTrans to change the conditions at will.

The permit hierarchy required the Water Board to act on the Clean Water Act Section 401 permit before the Corps ruled on the 404 permit.

Quote
August 2013: The project's lack of compliance was affirmed by an August 24 letter from the Corps, citing missed deadlines and failure to provide appropriate documentation. The Corps required CalTrans to complete the site preparations, which were supposed to have been completed in June 2013, by October 2013.

Quote
September 2013: CalTrans apprised local tribes it had "impacted a cultural site" by failing to properly mark it on maps. The site was one the Sherwood Valley Rancheria pointed out to CalTrans in May as being at risk. By the time CalTrans looked into it, several feet of topsoil had been removed, a significant number of wick drains had perforated it and several feet of fill had covered it.

Quote
February/March 2014: CalTrans preparations for winter failed during rains in near Haehl Creek. This resulted in substantial amounts of mud from the southern interchange entering local creeks and disrupting the salmonid spawning activity. CalTrans received a notice of violation for this failure. The Water Board inspector noted CalTrans had not followed its own state-wide best management practices.

Quote
June 2014: CalTrans notified local tribes that it had installed a water line through a marked cultural site. The stakes marking the site had been knocked over by cows.

June 20, 2014: The US Army Corps of Engineers suspended the 404 permit, essentially stopping the roadway construction. The suspension noted that CalTrans has not even completed the required baseline study (which requires a full calendar year to complete) for the eight parcels it was supposed to have started the mitigation wetland establishment and rehabilitation on in July 2013 and completed by January 2014.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: andy3175 on July 10, 2014, 12:37:28 AM
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20140707/articles/140709707

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Caltrans officials said Monday they will halt nearly all work on the Willits bypass while they try to get their permit for working in wetlands reinstated.

The cost of keeping contract construction workers and equipment on standby while they hammer out a permit solution has cost an estimated $800,000 since June 20 and is increasing by nearly $100,000 a day, said Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie.

“We had to finally say this is enough,” he said. About 100 construction workers are expected to be laid off from the project.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suspended Caltrans' permit to work in wetlands and streams last month because it had failed to keep to its agreed-upon schedule for mitigating the loss of wetlands caused by the project.

The first phase of the bypass project is expected to permanently affect 40 acres of wetlands and temporarily affect 30 acres, according to Caltrans officials. Another 30 acres would be affected by the second phase, which would expand the bypass from two to four lanes.

Caltrans is required to create additional wetlands and make other land and stream improvements to compensate for the damage. It has purchased about 2,000 acres in the Little Lake Valley to that end, officials said.

But Caltrans said higher-than-expected costs have slowed progress on the mitigation work, leading to the suspended permit.

Quote
Hicks said in order to resolve the permit issue, Caltrans must identify a way to speed the necessary mitigations or lessen its impacts by decreasing the size of the bypass' footprint. The latter has been sought by environmentalists who oppose the bypass.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: andy3175 on November 24, 2014, 12:50:28 AM
As an update, it appears the Willits Bypass will proceed, slowly, into 2017. This is after the stop work announcement made back in June 2014:

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/2906072-181/caltrans-willits-bypass-wont-be

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The Willits bypass is not expected to be ready for traffic until the summer of 2017, the result of a series of regulatory, legal and protest-related delays, Caltrans officials say. The project had been scheduled for opening in 2016. Caltrans officials say the delays will add millions of dollars to the cost of the $210 million, 5.9-mile project that will shunt highway traffic around Willits. Highway 101 currently runs through downtown Willits, and the drive through town can take up to 30 minutes with stoplights and traffic.

Quote
A number of factors, including Caltrans’ failure to meet the requirements of several of its water and wildlife agency permits, contributed to the delays, but Frisbie said the biggest factors were lawsuits filed by environmentalists. The latest was a challenge to the excavation of fill dirt slated for use on the bypass. A nearly three-week temporary restraining order that accompanied the lawsuit delayed delivery of the dirt, which needs to be in place and allowed to compact for about six months prior to construction resuming on several bridge footings, according to Caltrans. Soil deliveries resumed in high speed after the restraining order was lifted, but a rainstorm soon halted work again. Caltrans cannot move soil once the rains come because it can wash sediment into streams.

Quote
Opponents of the current bypass plan — now nearly 50 percent completed — continue to lobby for its footprint to be reduced. While the initial bypass is just two lanes, its base is being constructed to eventually accommodate four lanes. If Caltrans were to agree to reduce the unfinished interchange at the north end, it could save acres of wetlands in the Little Lake Valley that surrounds Willits and the many Native American archaeological sites believed to buried in the valley, opponents say. Caltrans is required to mitigate the wetland losses, but critics say it’s better to preserve wetlands than try to create new ones elsewhere.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: bing101 on December 03, 2014, 10:44:20 AM
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/local/3187875-181/caltrans-seeks-64-million-more

Caltrans Need $64 Million to finish the bypass. Opening date is in 2017
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: andy3175 on December 16, 2014, 11:17:41 PM
Latest on the Willits bypass ...

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/3233221-181/state-approves-64-million-to

Quote
The California Transportation Commission approved [on December 10] a $64 million Caltrans request to complete the Highway 101 bypass around Willits. The project, already two years behind schedule, is 50 percent complete. ... The two-lane highway is now slated to open in 2017. A second phase to widen the route to four lanes remains unfunded.

http://www.willitsnews.com/localnews/ci_27059705/willits-bypass-mendocino-county-share-is-9-7m

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The issue of "borrow operations" cites that CalTrans' Oil Well Hill site was the designated borrow site for 1 million cubic yards of dirt. While the site was cleared for use prior to construction, subsequent storm water violations by the CalTrans project in 2013 and 2014 caused the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board to require further permitting, primarily addressing silt runoff, for CalTrans to use the old borrow site. CalTrans chose not to pursue this option. ... It was not until August 2014 that a final permit was issued to Mendocino Forest Products allowing the new borrow site to be used legally. A court challenge delayed the dirt movement by 19 days, which CalTrans has subsequently cited for causing a one-year project delay.

This delay, according to the CTC documents, means that the more stringent California Air Resources Board emission rules effective in 2015 may add significant costs to the project.

Opposition to the project was cited as one of the project cost overruns due to the presence of California Highway Patrol officers needed to "manage protesters and vandalism." Details associated with vandalism were not available.

The presence of "several burial sites" and the discovery of additional "burial sites" was cited in the CTC documents as contributing to the cost overruns. According to Frisbie, the impacted cultural sites do not include "burial sites" and he hopes the CTC staff will correct the documentation to reflect the real situation.

The $9.7 million the Mendocino Council of Governments authorized for the Willits bypass project overrun means no Regional Improvement Project funds can be used on anything else for the foreseeable future. According to the bypass project funding formula, Mendocino County must provide 15 percent of the funding for this project.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: Kniwt on January 22, 2015, 09:28:08 PM
Part of the bypass (under construction) collapsed today, injuring three, the San Francisco Chronicle reports:
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/4-hurt-in-Highway-101-project-collapse-in-Willits-6033932.php

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Work on a Highway 101 bypass in Mendocino County came to a halt on Thursday when a 150-foot stretch collapsed, briefly trapping one member of the construction crew.
The incident occurred shortly after 2 p.m. in Willits, where a 5.9-mile bypass to Highway 101 is midway through construction. Workers were pouring concrete for a viaduct section of the bypass when the wood and metal beams that formed the frame for the roadbed gave way, said Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie Jr.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: kkt on January 23, 2015, 10:50:50 PM
That project just can't get a break.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: andy3175 on January 25, 2015, 04:40:20 AM
A bit more ... OSHA is investigating the bridge collapse:

http://www.krcrtv.com/north-coast-news/news/caltrans-osha-investigating-cause-of-bridge-collapse/30892562 (http://www.krcrtv.com/north-coast-news/news/caltrans-osha-investigating-cause-of-bridge-collapse/30892562)

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Caltrans crew and O.S.H.A. were in Willits today, investigating just what caused a 150 ft. portion of the Willits Bypass Project to collapse.

Crews said they were pouring concrete when the viaduct collapsed Thursday afternoon. The collapse injured three contracted employees from ‘Flat Iron Corporation.’

Friday morning Caltrans handed the investigation over to Cal-OSHA who will attempt to determine what caused the viaduct to fall.

While construction is planned to stop on the bridge collapse area while the investigation continues, the article noted that the bypass is still intended to open in fall 2017.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: andy3175 on August 13, 2015, 12:39:53 AM
http://abc7news.com/traffic/caltrans-tight-lipped-on-willits-bypass-environmental-cost/905613/

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The Willits bypass is on track to open late next year, but Caltrans won't say how much the environmental part work will cost. ...

Caltrans is making progress on the largest environmental mitigation project in its history, but the agency still won't confirm to ABC7 News how much the massive project will actually cost. The environmental work is linked to the troubled Willits bypass on Highway 101 in Mendocino County -- a project we've been investigating for the past two years.

Work is moving full speed ahead on six miles of new freeway, now on track to open late next year. Right now, traffic on Highway 101 goes right through Willits where it backs up on Main Street.

The freeway bypass will route traffic around all this. Construction started two years ago, but was delayed because of protests and lawsuits by environmental groups pushing for a much smaller road.

Those efforts failed and now Caltrans reports the bypass is about 75 percent finished. Many truck drivers, vacationers and local residents can't wait for opening day. ...

The new freeway runs through habitat for threatened salmon and steelhead with impact to thousands of trees and endangered plants. The seasonal wetlands are now being turned into a freeway interchange. As a result, state and federal agencies require the largest environmental mitigation in Caltrans history to compensate.

Caltrans won't say exactly how much the environmental work will cost. Two years ago it was supposed to be about $50 million. Now, expert analysis of the agency's documents suggests it's likely around $100 million. Critics are not surprised.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: andy3175 on November 21, 2015, 01:11:52 AM
The latest from Willits...

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Northern-California-Native-Americans-Sue-Caltrans-Over-Destroying-Sacred-Sites-in-Mendocino-County-Suit-338805592.html

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Two Northern California Indian Tribes filed suit in federal court, alleging that Caltrans has destroyed  important archaeological areas and failed to properly protect historical sites during construction of a stretch of road in Mendocino County.

The suit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco by the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and the Round Valley Indian Tribes alleging violations of the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. As examples, the suit alleges that Caltrans is bulldozing over important wetlands, unearthing historical obsidian pieces without properly storing them, and blocking historic salmon passages.

The Willits Bypass Project is a 6-mile long rerouting of U.S. Highway 101 through Little Lake Valley, near the city of Willits, in Mendocino County that is expected to be finished in November 2016 and cost $300 million.

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Despite Caltrans' explanation, the plaintiff’s attorneys are asking that the project be stopped until Caltrans can sit down with the tribes to give them a role in making sure their "history is protected," attorney Phil Gregory said ahead of a news conference in Burlingame.

The saga over the Native Americans and the bypass has been going on for years, and has been documented by media outlets such as Indian Country Today since at least 2012. The suit notes that even though the project has been in the works for two years, Caltrans has yet to develop a process for "identifying historic properties, cultural resources and sacred sites." The tribes learned about the project in 2013, the lawyers said, and tried to negotiate with Caltrans without going to court, but to no avail.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: andy3175 on March 03, 2016, 11:16:13 PM
Willits bypass now tentatively scheduled to open to traffic on Sept 16, 2016, if all goes well:

http://www.ukiahdailyjournal.com/general-news/20160301/willits-bypass-to-open-to-traffic-on-sept-16

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In discussions between the city of Willits and Caltrans, Mayor Bruce Burton told the City Council on Feb. 24 that Caltrans was planning to open the Willits Bypass for through traffic on Sept. 16. This remains a planning date barring unforeseen circumstances.

While the roadway construction is expected to complete by that time, Burton said the Ryan Creek fish passage was expected to complete later.

Other “child” projects associated with the bypass such as the revamp of the Sherwood Road intersection with North Main Street, the addition of sidewalks and drainage in front of Willits High School and the repaving and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance from Highway 20 to the northern Willits city limits are expected to complete in 2017.

The bypass mitigation projects, currently underway, in areas away from the freeway footprint have their own schedule and will continue for years after the roadway is placed into service.

The roadway construction is considered to be 87 percent complete, according to the February update provided by Caltrans to the Willits City Council. Most of the work has been suspended until the end of the rainy season.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: andy3175 on November 10, 2016, 12:08:48 AM
Willits Bypass opened last week, 11/3/2016:

https://lostcoastoutpost.com/2016/nov/3/photos-willits-bypass-ceremoniously-opened-today-h/

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At least a thousand people gathered on a bridge in the middle of the Little Lake Valley this afternoon to commemorate the opening of the Willits Bypass, a construction project first envisioned some 60 years ago, and which will officially open to traffic sometime later today. ...

Recently retired Caltrans District One Director Charlie Fielder was the first person invited to speak. He spoke of the challenges that have dogged the bypass since it was first envisioned in the late ‘50s — the 1964 flood, the oil crisis of the 1970s, the Northridge and Loma Prieta earthquakes — all times, he said, when the little bypass in the north part of the state was pushed back down to the bottom of California’s priority list.

http://www.willitsnews.com/article/NR/20161103/NEWS/161109988

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“It’s a great day for motorists traveling both north and south on U.S. 101,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. He thanked Willits residents for their patience and support throughout the long span of the project’s completion.

He said the bypass will help alleviate the congestion and traffic running through the center of town.

Phil Dow, Mendocino Council of Governments director joked about the length of the project from its approval back in the 1950s.

“I knew this day was going to come. I wasn’t sure I was going to still be alive,” he joked.

He said now that the $300 million two-lane bypass project has been completed, the state’s transportation department can focus on completing smaller projects in Ukiah, Laytonville and other nearby areas, including Willits.

http://www.times-standard.com/article/NJ/20161103/NEWS/161109907

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Hundreds of people packed onto the new U.S. Highway 101 Willits Bypass on Thursday morning for the opening ceremony and dedication of a 1.1-mile viaduct as the Jesse D. Pittman S01 Navy SEAL Memorial Bridge.

The 6-mile long bypass includes 14 bridges that circumvent downtown Willits and eliminates the only stop lights on the highway between San Francisco and Eureka. The two-lane bypass cost $300 million.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: coatimundi on November 10, 2016, 01:35:00 AM
Quote
At least a thousand people gathered on a bridge
...
Hundreds of people packed onto the new U.S. Highway 101 Willits Bypass

Good to see that pride in the accuracy of journalism is still out there.
But the real question is: didn't these people have something else to do on a Thursday morning aside from stand on a bridge for a half hour? Surely Willits is not quite that boring. Maybe there was free food.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: compdude787 on November 10, 2016, 09:05:55 PM
Just added it to OpenStreetMap. :)
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: bigdave on November 11, 2016, 12:19:11 PM
Willits Bypass opened last week, 11/3/2016:
$300 million - seriously, even in California that's real money.

But thank goodness the bypass is done. I went through Willits in May and I thought I was never going to get through that town. Crawling traffic, numerous traffic signals, and 25 mph speed limits.

Now if they would just build a new bypass around Eureka to replace the current bypass that is now clogged with traffic and traffic signals.   :bigass:
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: The Ghostbuster on November 11, 2016, 06:33:31 PM
Is there sufficient space around Eureka to build a bypass?
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: jrouse on November 11, 2016, 07:07:13 PM
There were plans for a Eureka Freeway for many years.  That proposed freeway was formally abandoned some years ago.


iPhone
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: oscar on November 12, 2016, 12:27:11 AM
The Mendocino Voice posted videos of the bypass, in both directions, between its northern and southern interchanges:

https://www.mendovoice.com/2016/11/drive-with-us-on-the-willits-bypass-video/

Annoyingly, the SB video fades to white before I could get a clear view of the exit number on the southern interchange (CA 20 west). The northern interchange, shown in the NB video, is 573, so I'm guessing the southern interchange number is in the 566 to 568 range (it kind of looks like an even number). Neither exit number is yet on CalNEXUS.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: J N Winkler on November 12, 2016, 10:36:58 AM
Annoyingly, the SB video fades to white before I could get a clear view of the exit number on the southern interchange (CA 20 west). The northern interchange, shown in the NB video, is 573, so I'm guessing the southern interchange number is in the 566 to 568 range (it kind of looks like an even number). Neither exit number is yet on CalNEXUS.

That information is in the construction plans, which are still online (http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/esc/oe/project_ads_addenda/01/01-262004/plans/as_advertised/).  SR 20 westbound is Exit 568.  The signing plans are (approximately) Sheets 459-499 out of 939 total in the plans set.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: oscar on November 12, 2016, 02:01:10 PM
SR 20 westbound is Exit 568.  The signing plans are (approximately) Sheets 459-499 out of 939 total in the plans set.

Muchas gracias. I'll take your word for it ;).
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: JREwing78 on November 12, 2016, 04:12:44 PM
Willits Bypass opened last week, 11/3/2016:
$300 million - seriously, even in California that's real money.

Considering all the bridgework and lawsuits involved, I'm not shocked at the price tag. Judging by the traffic on the 2 lanes that were opened, the additional 2 lanes will be welcomed once the red tape is dealt with.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: bigdave on November 28, 2016, 06:09:57 PM
Is there sufficient space around Eureka to build a bypass?
My comment was intended to be somewhat facetious.  :) At least US 101 through Eureka is a full four lane highway at all points, which is a huge improvement over the former US 101 through Willits.

Still, $300 million for the project is mind boggling.

David
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: coatimundi on November 28, 2016, 06:31:23 PM
I'll be interested to see the traffic counts on this.
There is thru traffic on 101, of course, but the highway is also two lanes almost immediately north of Willits, and I would guess a lot of the traffic came from Willits itself or the Brooktrails development, northwest of town (which is almost as populous as Willits). If that's the case, then that traffic is not going anywhere.
Plus, with growing weed being legal in the rest of the state now, Mendocino is going to see a lot less traffic leaving the county.

It seems like the Olancha bypass is more necessary, even though a lot of the bitching there is from Angelenos trying to keep an 80mph clip coming back from Mammoth and Yosemite.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: Inyomono395 on November 28, 2016, 11:30:59 PM

It seems like the Olancha bypass is more necessary, even though a lot of the bitching there is from Angelenos trying to keep an 80mph clip coming back from Mammoth and Yosemite.

Although I've never driven that far north on US 101 I've always heard the willits bypass was long overdue. Living in Bishop I know for a fact that the Olancha bypass is very long overdue. During the summer travel season and long holiday weekends during the winter months it is downright scary to drive that two lane section.

I made a post about the Olancha bypass a while back http://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=17437.0

With a 4 lane expressway north and south of Olancha no one wants to slow down while passing through the town and with businesses and houses so close to the highway it's a recipe for disaster. Not to mention the traffic jams that occur when people stop in the road to make a left hand turn due to the lack of a turning lane.

So you'll hear me bitching but I'm definitely no Angeleno haha. I'm just a concerned local that has to drive from Bishop to Olancha 3-4 times a week due to my job.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: coatimundi on November 28, 2016, 11:39:41 PM

It seems like the Olancha bypass is more necessary, even though a lot of the bitching there is from Angelenos trying to keep an 80mph clip coming back from Mammoth and Yosemite.

Although I've never driven that far north on US 101 I've always heard the willits bypass was long overdue. Living in Bishop I know for a fact that the Olancha bypass is very long overdue. During the summer travel season and long holiday weekends during the winter months it is downright scary to drive that two lane section.

I made a post about the Olancha bypass a while back http://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=17437.0

With a 4 lane expressway north and south of Olancha no one wants to slow down while passing through the town and with businesses and houses so close to the highway it's a recipe for disaster. Not to mention the traffic jams that occur when people stop in the road to make a left hand turn due to the lack of a turning lane.

So you'll hear me bitching but I'm definitely no Angeleno haha. I'm just a concerned local that has to drive from Bishop to Olancha 3-4 times a week due to my job.

I had to drive back with a caravan of crossovers, Audis and Mercedes, all from the Southland, this past weekend on 395, so I think I'm just a little bitter about it. Main irk was that they had seemingly taken over Bishop on their way back down. I normally really enjoy spending time in Bishop but barely stopped this time.

It's a bottleneck. It makes sense. I'm not saying it's a bad idea. I don't mean to redirect this topic too much (I did recall your Olancha bypass post), so I'll add something there. I was mostly pointing out that I think Olancha needs a bypass more than Willits, but Willits got theirs first. I know it comes down to funding priorities in individual districts, but it just seems a little odd to me.
Title: Re: US 101 Willits Bypass
Post by: andy3175 on June 28, 2017, 01:03:48 AM
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/7140946-181/final-price-of-willits-bypass?artslide=0

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Final price of Willits bypass $159 million higher than reported

The controversial 6-mile Highway 101 bypass around Willits cost 50 percent more than what was reported by Caltrans when it opened the freeway last year, raising its total price tag to $459 million and fueling pointed criticism of the state agency.

Caltrans officials say the $159 million discrepancy stems from unintentionally failing to include the department’s own staff time in publicly released financial reports. Reporting staff time on that particular project wasn’t required by law, but it was internal Caltrans policy, officials said. ...

The controversial bypass opened in November, moving Highway 101 from the middle of Willits to the wetlands and farmlands on its outskirts. Many lauded the reduction of traffic jams and pollution, but others in the city of 5,000 said the bypass was too big, with too many negative environmental, cultural and economic impacts. ...

While it’s just two lanes, the partially raised bypass has a footprint large enough to accommodate two additional lanes in the future. ...

Protesters repeatedly blocked and delayed construction, adding an estimated $36.4 million in costs to the project, which was estimated at $210 million when construction began in 2012, according to Caltrans. Lawsuits aimed at stopping the project cost another $19.6 million.

There also were regulatory hurdles and delays, adding another $7.8 million, Caltrans said.

A collapse of the bridge framework, which injured several workers, did not ultimately cause delays and was paid for by the contractors’ insurance companies, Frisbie said.