ALTERNATIVES TO THE CALTRANS WILLITS BYPASS
Alternatives to a Freeway Bypass: In-town alternatives are feasible and desirable.
1. The easiest, lowest-cost first step is common sense restriping of Highway 101 approaching and at the Highway 20 intersection. The road is currently striped to create congestion, and could be reconfigured and restriped for just a few hundred thousand dollars. Caltrans has neglected to do this for 20 years (since they did the restriping to cause the bottleneck) despite repeated pleas by Willits City Council. Now Caltrans says they will restripe next year, after their bypass goes forward.
2. The next step would be connecting Baechtel Rd. and Railroad Ave. This has been a unanimous top priority of Willits City Council for years. An extensive community design study of this corridor was completed in October 2003 (with funding from Caltrans). It seems this route could potentially carry as much traffic as the freeway bypass (mostly for locals and at much lower speeds), thus easing congestion at a fraction of the cost of the proposed bypass, without over-burdening existing roadways or significantly affecting nearby developments.
3. A third potential step, if still needed, could be a truck route along the railroad right-of-way. The right-of-way is 150’ wide (or more in some areas), which is ample to retain railways, provide a separated lane in each direction, turn lanes where needed, and still have a bike path or other amenities. This two-lane route would require NO demolitions, with only 12 residences on the route, and ample capacity to carry the traffic volume.
4. Fourth, there are options to connect a local street (probably Locust) North to Highway 20 (again at low cost and impact), which would further alleviate traffic congestion on Main St./101.
It is true that none of these feasible, low cost, low impact approaches meets the objectives of Caltrans for a high-speed freeway bypass. But that objective is NOT statistically needed, NOT in the best interests of our community, and NOT worth the enormous price tag and environmental damage it entails. The bypass is an obscene waste.
Finally global climate change just might warrant rethinking the freeway solution, especially in this case where the construction alone will produce 80-90 years’ worth of the greenhouse gases saved by the “improvement”.