Corona Residents Sue Over 91 Contruction

By Anthony Saude

Corona – The residents, who live north of the 91 freeway, contend that the pile driving, jack hammering and round-the-clock work at Green River Road damaged their houses and robbed them of most of the mountain views they had previously enjoyed. The freeway construction was part of a larger $1.4 billion freeway improvement project that stretched from 2014 to 2017.

Sleepless nights, cracks in the walls and a rodent infestation is what a group of Corona homeowners say is just some of the damage caused by the 91 Freeway construction over the past few years.

A group of more than a dozen homeowners decided they had enough so they sued the Riverside County Transportation Commission and two companies that worked on the project in late 2016. The homeowners sued over property damage, loss of quality of life, loss in property values and of course now the cost of attorneys.

The lawsuit was filed over a year ago and the residents said they are still waiting for a resolution on the matter.

John Standiford, deputy executive director for the Riverside County Transportation Commission, declined to comment due to pending litigation. Attorneys for Atkinson Contractors and Walsh Construction Company, the two companies named in the lawsuit, have both failed to respond to a request for comment.

67 year old resident Warren Stockwell, has lived in his Pennyroyal Drive home for more than 30 years, and now has cracks running along his ceiling and driveway. He states that the damage was caused by the construction work related to the lengthening and widening of the Green River Road westbound off-ramp.

“I’m 67 years old and still partially working,” resident Warren Stockwell said. “I don’t need this. I want my house fixed.” His house still hasn’t been repaired.

The Green River Road improvements were part of a larger project that added two toll lanes and a general lane in both directions of an 8 mile stretch of freeway from Orange County to the 15 Freeway.

The issues for the homeowners began in 2014 when construction started on the 91 Freeway.

The group said they met with RCTC and construction firms at a neighborhood meeting to ask questions in October 2014. Soon after, Stockwell and other residents began seeking legal options to address the damage.

Sheila Lawrence, who has owned a house in the neighborhood since 1996, said the construction caused problems for her renters.

Lawrence alleges rodents, including kangaroo rats, were driven from their natural habitat outside the neighborhood into the neighborhood after crews started working.

One of the off ramps, the much taller one has caused a host of other problems other problems for the homeowners.

“I have more dirt and emissions coming into the yard and into the back of the house,” Lawrence said. “They can’t even open up the back of the house. If they do, within less than 20 minutes, it is covered in black soot.”

Other neighbors, including Diana Sanches and Julie Sanchez, suffered damage to their homes due to freeway construction. Both stayed at hotels during some of the construction phases after lawyers got involved.

It is estimated that it would cost about $8 million to cover all the damages and attorney fees for the homeowners in the suit.