Diane Holmes looks at trash left behind after Caltrans purchased and demolished a run-down house in the Standard area. Caltrans left the rubble there, and people now dump their trash on the former home site. (Amy Alonzo/Copyright 2003, The Union Democrat).
Project leaves one family on hold and living in fear
By JOSHUA WOLFSON
Diane Holmes doesn't sleep much anymore.
She is tense and nervous and any little noise outside her Standard area home wakes her. On an average night, she is lucky to get more than three hours of sleep.
"I'm just a wreck," she said. "I'm just shot."
It wasn't always this way. But over the last year, Holmes said she has grown to feel terrorized inside her own home.
Her problems began when Caltrans began buying up properties in the Standard area to make room for a new portion of Highway 108 being built as part of the East Sonora Bypass Project.
One of those properties belonged to a neighbor who, after being bought out, moved about a year ago. Since then, the now-decaying home, barns and trailers on that parcel have become magnets for vagrants and troublemakers, Holmes said.
And Holmes' home, just a few hundred yards away, has become a target for vandals and prowlers, she said.
"This is not habitable," she said. "It is not home. They've taken all that away from us."
Now Holmes wants only one thing: to be bought out by Caltrans and move as soon as possible.
Easier said than done.
Because her home off Highway 108 is in the new highway's path, Caltrans will eventually buy it as part of the project's second phase which would extend the bypass from Standard Road to Via Este. Last month, Caltrans discussed pushing back the schedule for that stage by a year.
In the meantime, Holmes said she has been told she cannot sell it to anyone else meaning her family is stuck waiting for the state agency to buy them out.
"I've worked so hard to get this, and they just want to take this out and destroy it," she said of her home.
Holmes, widowed when her husband died in a 1997 Highway 4 car accident, had planned to be long gone by this time. In fact, she sold her video game business at the end of the year with plans to move to Texas.
Instead, she and her two sons remain in a neighborhood where she no longer feels safe.
"I need to get out of here," she said.