To the Board of Supervisors
The Willits Bypass will allow through traffic on the Freeway to bypass the streets of Willits. CalTrans advises that this will be good for our community, because it will get some of those big rigs off local streets and reduce air pollution. Phase I will cost over $200 million and the total could well be over $350 million if it is ever completed. It will not improve downtown backups for traffic headed toward Fort Bragg: this traffic will need to exit the new Highway 101 several miles north or south of town and drive through downtown streets to reach Highway 20 just as they do now.
While all of this is being discussed and protested to the north, the Ukiah City Council is proposing the opposite solution to their traffic problems. They want to use $6.2 million of local tax funds not to allow traffic to bypass Ukiah but to move it more efficiently into town. They want to expand freeway off-ramps and feeder roads so as to shuttle shoppers into Ukiah’s expanding Big Box stores along Airport Boulevard. Our visionary City Council feels this will be good for our community: generating new sources of sales tax revenue, even while admittedly forcing many smaller businesses to close.
Recommendations: First: The Board of Supervisors should lend its support to the effort by Senator Noreen Evans to get CalTrans to explain its justification for selection of what many see as the worst of the Bypass Options. Second: Insist that the Ukiah City Council explain to the public how their highway project will be financed, how loans will be repaid, and how this will impact the revenue sharing talks that continue between County and City.