WILLITS - Protests over Caltrans' construction of a Highway 101 bypass of Willits continued this week as work approached 25 percent completion.

Two people were arrested Monday night after locking themselves to a dump truck and stalling soil moving operations for about an hour, according to Redwood Nation Earth First! and CHP officials.

A third protester has periodically been lodged in a tree on the projects grounds, said Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbee.

The tree sitter will be removed soon to make it safe for the last of the vegetation removal to be completed, Frisbee said. Work on the four-year bypass project is expected to conclude for the year in mid-October.

The CHP has made about 50 arrests, including citations, involving about 30 people since construction began early this year, said spokesman Steve Krul.

The $210 million, 5.9-mile bypass around Willits also has sparked at least two lawsuits, which so far have failed to halt the project.

Proponents say the bypass will alleviate traffic jams through Willits, where Highway 101 is the main thoroughfare, reduce vehicle exhaust and make the streets safer.

Opponents say it's unnecessary, will destroy wetlands, harm fish and irrevocably change the rural nature of Little Lake Valley.