Some Forestville residents are opposed to a roundabout at Highway 116 and Mirabel Road because they fear it will rob the Russian River gateway of its small town charm.
Others think the interchange project is an unnecessary use of millions of tax dollars, which should be spent to improve other intersections.
Still others worry that the project will deprive their businesses of streetfront parking.
Forestville Roundabout Fight
A loose coalition of residents has formed to oppose the project that has been in the works for at least a decade. But shutting down work now could mean forfeiting millions of dollars for a future Forestville bypass, county officials say.
“This is a waste of government money,” said Allison Bordessa, who lives just off Mirabel Road near where it forms a “T” with Highway 116. “It will ruin this little town.”
Forestville is the latest battleground in the fight over the circular traffic junctions that are popular in Europe but remain misunderstood here. They have sparked strong opposition in some Sonoma County communities, including Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Sonoma Valley. Cotati voters last year permanently banned roundabouts.
Ramona Crinella, who owns a vineyard on 72 acres south of the proposed project said the construction would eat into 10 percent of her planted land.
“It would be terrible,” she said. “I love every vine that we have. I’m a little bitter.”
County planners have coupled the roundabout, which could cost up to $7 million depending on bids, with a half-mile Forestville bypass.
The project was part of the Measure M sales tax that voters approved in 2004 for transportation projects. The bypass and roundabout will reduce traffic congestion through Forestville, county officials say.
“If you don’t build this first part (the roundabout), you don’t get the bypass,” said Tom O’Kane, deputy director of the county transportation and public works department. The roundabout would be at the northern end of a future bypass.