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Question: Does Forestville REALLY need an expensive roundabout at Hwy. 116 and Mirabel Road? Maybe we should use the money for schools or pothole repair instead and wait for the signal/roundabout decision until the Highway 116 bypass is in the works. — Jim S.

Answer: It ain’t gonna happen. This is the first phase of the bypass, and it is already in the works. Because  money for this project comes from the Measure M tax approved by voters in 2004, it is restricted to capital projects and can’t be used for maintenance projects such as pot hole repair or repaving, or even schools, which already get a big chunk of your property tax dollar. (There is no line item in the county budget dedicated to roads.)

Tom O’Kane, deputy director of the county’s Department of Transportation and Public Works, reminds us that the downtown Forestville bypass has been on the table for more than a decade. Caltrans has the final word on it because Highway 116 is a state route, but his office has been working on the project with Caltrans for more than 6 years.

They considered adding a traffic signal at the intersection of Mirabel and Highway 116 as well as a roundabout, but chose the second option for a variety of reasons. With funding in hand for the first of the two-part bypass, work has begun on design and permitting, with construction likely to begin next spring.

The bottom line, says O’Kane, is that “the project is proceeding. If it does not go at this time, it is very unlikely there will ever be funding again for any part of a bypass.”

Question: Recently, (cement) K-rails were installed on Laughlin Road at the single lane bridge.  I’ve tried to find out if this is a permanent or temporary solution to semis trying to use this bridge.  Usually when they do they get stuck and damage the guard rails.

I’m sure I’m not the only person frustrated with what has been done.  The K-rails have been installed on blind curve going towards the Airport and backing up is a difficult option if there is a long string of cars behind you when you met a car going in the opposite direction. Can you find out any information on this? — Amy Shiery

Answer: O’Kane tells us that the “K” rail is a temporary solution, “the best we can do right now.” The county installed them after doing three major guardrail repairs in one month, fixing damage caused by truckers who ignored the warning signs leading into the area.

“It was a last resort to make it more obvious that trucks can’t go this direction, but they do anyway,” he says. “Eventually we do collect for the damages and the repairs, but with all the other commitments for road repairs, we cannot continue to divert staff hours away from other more serious road problems.”

Longer term, the one-lane Laughlin Bridge will be abandoned once Brickway Blvd. is extended south from Airport Blvd. to River Road across a new bridge. The county is in the design stage on that project.

Until Caltrans reopens the northbound Highway 101 ramp to Airport Blvd., O’Kane suggests that drivers coming from the west use Slusser Road and from the east, take U.S. 101 to Shiloh, entering the Airport corridor from Skylane or southbound Highway 101.

O’Kane discussed the Brickway extension in an earlier conversation with the Road Warrior. Read that story HERE for more details and context.

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