The Highway 101 Willits bypass project, already delayed by protests and lawsuits, could be further held up as a regional water board has raised questions about Caltrans’ environmental permit.
The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board says Caltrans has not done sufficient mitigation to make up for sensitive wetlands that are being filled to build the 5.9-mile highway around Willits.
The water board suggested that Caltrans scale back the size of the project or find ways to accelerate or increase efforts to offset the loss of wetlands.
Environmental activists, whose protests have slowed construction work and led to 50 arrests over the last year, said a downsized project would be a victory for wetlands protection.
Caltrans said it is not considering scaling back the project. Instead, it is working on mitigation measures to comply with the water board’s requirements, Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie said.