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Caltrans Willits freeway project comes to halt

Willits bypass
August 28, 2013 6:59:08 PM PDT
Work on a controversial Caltrans freeway project came to a sudden stop on Wednesday after Mendocino County revoked a permit in the morning.

Caltrans is building a $300 million bypass around the town of Willits, right through sensitive wetlands.

In the last few days, crews have begun dumping fill-dirt on the site. Environmentalists sued, saying the county did not do the required environmental review of the dirt excavation site and it could contain toxic material. Caltrans claims the toxins in the dirt are below the allowed standards.

A hearing was set for Wednesday, but before it could happen, the county revoked the permit. A letter from the Chief Building Inspector said the permit "was issued in error."

Caltrans told ABC7 News they will begin trucking dirt from another site. Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbee said, "As early as tomorrow evening we will begin night work to move excess fill from the south interchange area to keep the project moving forward."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has also notified Caltrans it is out of compliance with other critical environmental regulations on the Willits project.

Link to Caltrans letter in response to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

US Army Corps "Notice of Non-Compliance" to Caltrans document

Link to the new lawsuit

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney


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