Forestville roundabout on hold due to lawsuit

  • 8/6/2013: B1:

    PC: Concerned Forestville residents Allison Bordessa, left, and Ramona Crinella stand at the intersection of Highway 116 and Mirabel Road where a proposed roundabout is scheduled to be built on Monday, August 5, 2013. The two believe the roundabout will cause traffic problems in town rather than help alleviate them. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

A roundabout project on Highway 116 in Forestville is on hold pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by a group of residents who say the traffic circle is not needed.

The suit alleges that Caltrans did not comply with environmental regulations in approving the project in October.

The group, Citizens Against the Roundabout, is spearheaded by Ramona Crinella, who owns a vineyard on 72 acres south of the project at Highway 116 and Mirabel Road. She said Caltrans should have done a full environmental impact report.

"The environmental document is absolutely flawed and ridiculous," Crinella said. "The county is saying they have reviewed all the environmental consequences and there is no environmental damage that cannot be mitigated."

County planners have coupled the $7 million roundabout with a half-mile Forestville bypass, which is not funded. The roundabout has been designed but property needed for the project has not been acquired. That process, which is on hold during the litigation, could take up to 18 months, officials said.

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.

The citizen's group is suing the county along with Caltrans. A Caltrans spokesman declined to comment.

Adam Brand, deputy county counsel, said that Caltrans and the county sufficiently studied the environmental impacts, and the project did not warrant a full EIR.

"The county stands behind the project, stands behind the environmental document and will defend it vigorously," Brand said. "The project is somewhat on hold."

Allison Bordessa, a member of the Citizens Against the Roundabout who lives just off Mirabel Road near its intersection with Highway 116, said the roundabout and bypass project would hurt Forestville merchants.

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