Willits bypass faces new legal challenges


Caltrans is building a $300 million freeway bypass around the town of Willits in Mendocino County. The project will impact up to 80 acres of sensitive wetlands. Caltrans is installing wick drains to speed up the drying process and then packing fill dirt on top as shown in photos from The Willits News.

Environmental groups filed suit against Mendocino County on Friday. The suit charges the county did not do the required environmental review of the site where the dirt is being excavated.

The county counsel told ABC7 News he is reviewing the lawsuit. Caltrans has not commented. A hearing on a request for a temporary restraining order to stop work on the project is scheduled for Wednesday.

Meantime, a court decision on another environmental lawsuit concerning the bypass project is expected any day.

Just days ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers notified Caltrans it is "out of compliance" with other critical environmental regulations. Caltrans meets with the Corps next week to try to resolve those issues.

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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