At its recent statewide convention, The California Sate Grange (CSG) passed the resolution below calling for immediate action by the California State Grange to lobby Governor Jerry Brown to call a halt to construction of the northern interchange and require Caltrans to design a two-lane alternative to achieve significant savings in impact on wetlands and farm land.
Scale Back Caltrans Willits Bypass Project
Proposed by: Michael Foley, Little Lake Grange #670
Whereas: The Willits Bypass Project currently under construction is one of the most expensive highway projects per mile in recent memory, costing four times the state and national average for comparable projects; and
Whereas: Thirty-four percent of California highways are in serious need of repair, starved for funds while Caltrans pursues expensive new projects such as this bypass; and
Whereas: Caltrans has consistently misrepresented the need for the project, claiming to regulatory agencies that the Federal Highway Administration requires a four-lane freeway when it in fact does not; and
Whereas: Caltrans has violated numerous laws and its own representations before regulatory agencies, most recently admitting that an unexplored Pomo site had been destroyed in violation of historic preservation laws; and
Whereas: Caltrans has only been authorized to build a two-lane highway but is building a four-lane footprint in anticipation of future funding; and
Whereas: The Project involves the largest wetlands fill in California in fifty years; and
Whereas: Mitigation for the wetlands fill has entailed the purchase of 2,000 acres of farm land, roughly a third of valley farmland; and
Whereas: Local ranchers, working with the Farm Bureau, have genuine concerns that wetlands fill and the mitigation projects will seriously and adversely affect neighboring ranches; and
Whereas: The most destructive portion of the project, the massive four-land northern interchange connecting a two-land bypass to a two-land highway, can still be stopped; and
Whereas: Willits City Councilwoman Madge Strong has proposed replacing the planned interchange with two lanes merging into existing Highway 101, a measure that would save millions of dollars and avoid roughly 40 percent of wetlands fill, releasing 40 percent of farm land from participation in the mitigation project; therefore be it
Resolved: That the CSG lobby Governor Brown immediately to call a halt to construction of the northern interchange and require Caltrans to design a two-lane alternative to achieve significant savings in impact on wetlands and farm land.