1. CalTrans — an agency synonymous with No Accountability. Neighbors of the bypass right of way are already complaining that whenever they ask Caltrans to make minor, no-cost adjustments the Caltrans response is: “That’s not our problem.”
2. It’s not a bypass — Without a Highway 20 interchange (removed because it was “too expensive”), less than half of traffic will be diverted around Willits — at best. And trucks going to or coming from Fort Bragg will actually spend more time in Willits with the Bypass than without it. The thing is only two lanes, one north, one south, a major accident waiting to happen.
3. Caltrans’s traffic studies are obsolete; they are based on the days when there was a logging boom and log trucks ran up and down the 101 in great numbers. Tractor Trailer traffic is way down. The 50s vintage bypass idea is not necessary. It might have been in 1950 when the idea was conceived, but it’s not 1950 anymore.
4. Local pols like Mike Thompson helped ram funding through for the Bypass although more than a hundred Willits businesses signed a petition opposing the Bypass.
5. The Bypass will sink into Little Lake Valley — In an unsuccessful attempt to allow water to flow under part of the Bypass, Caltrans will elevate almost two miles of it on pylons that are anchored in sand, gravel and silt (as documented by their own core samples). If it doesn’t sink into this ooze on its own, the Big One will surely topple it.
6. Bad route — If a bypass is needed at all, it should be on the abandoned railroad right of way.
7. Too expensive — Too much money has been spent on paperwork and bad planning which has produced a project that will cost way too much and won’t do what it’s supposed to do.
8. Won’t be finished on time, and may not ever be finished given the precarious state of the economy. Because of its defective design, its extravagant cost and the limited resources available to state governments these days, there’s a very good chance that the project will stall mid-project (due to construction problems or budgetary overruns or both), leaving the traffic situation worse than it was with nothing to show for about $250 million taxpayer dollars.
9. Leaves the expense of maintaining Highway 101 through Willits to Willits. Caltrans is abandoning Willits’s “Main Street” (Highway 101) and leaving its maintenance to the struggling City of Willits. Since a lot of the traffic will still go through Willits (see item 2 above), Willits will be stuck with a maintenance load and cost that is way beyond its means.
10. Very little money for local workers and contractors. Caltrans has hired a Utah-based company to do the work. Their employees will give Willits something of an economic boost, but —
11. It’s bad for local businesses, especially during construction. During the six years or more that the construction lasts, people will avoid Downtown Willits. And if the Bypass is ever completed, surviving businesses will have to reconfigure themselves to the new traffic patterns.
12. Can’t compare to Cloverdale & Ukiah. Those bypasses were simple paving projects on flat stable ground presenting none of the unique problems presented by Little Lake Valley.
13. In spite of all of Caltrans’s expensive “mitigations,” birds and fish — both endangered and not endangered — will die off due to loss of habitat and heavy construction activity. What Caltrans calls “wetlands mitigation” is a few hundred random acres of taxpayer-purchased farmland which is not wetlands and will not become wetlands.
14. It will be unsafe. Getting to accidents on the two-lane raised viaduct will be a major problem for emergency responders.
15. Construction Hell. Dump trucks, pile drivers, and other noisy, noxious heavy equipment will fill Willits roads, sidestreets, and parking areas all over town for who knows how many years, wrecking roadbeds, snarling traffic and creating road repair problems for the City of Willits.
16. Loss of ag land. As the Farm Bureau has argued in court, a huge amount of productive farmland will be taken out of production as (ineffective) wetlands mitigation.
17. Flooding and drainage problems will be created. There’s been no independent analysis of drainage or flood patterns during or after the construction.
18. The local transportation money which could have been spent on real, focused traffic and safety improvements in Little Lake Valley has been spent on the Bypass that isn’t a Bypass, and because of that those existing traffic and safety problems are and will remain unsolved.
19. There are better smaller, safer local alternatives which would produce much more tangible traffic improvements sooner for a lot less money and give a real boost to local contractors and businesses.