Laetitia Winery owner pauses lawsuit stopping work on El Campo Road, Highway 101

See what makes the El Campo intersection of Highway 101 a narrow margin for error

Highway 101 is a high-speed freeway intersecting with El Campo Road where the crossing leaves little margin for error.
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Highway 101 is a high-speed freeway intersecting with El Campo Road where the crossing leaves little margin for error.

Update, 3 p.m. Saturday

A Vintage Wine Estates spokesperson clarified to The Tribune on Saturday that the lawsuit has only been put on hold to allow work to close the El Campo Road crossing on Highway 101 to begin. The lawsuit has not yet been full withdrawn, however, to ensure Caltrans commits to completely fixing the intersection.

Original story

Vintage Wine Estates has pulled its lawsuit stopping work to close the the El Campo Road crossing on Highway 101, after meeting with the father of a Cal Poly student killed at the Arroyo Grande intersection.

In a letter Thursday, the company — which owns Laetitia Winery, also in rural Arroyo Grande — said that it “heard the community and the Grant family about the unsafe crossings at El Campo Road and along the corridor where Laetitia Vineyard and Winery is located.”

“We met with James Grant and members of the community and have agreed to join forces,” read the open letter emailed to The Tribune.

Grant, whose son Jordan Grant was killed at the El Campo Road crossing in October, met with the winery group after it filed a lawsuit stopping construction at the intersection last week. Grant called for a boycott and picket of the company in light of the lawsuit (though he later canceled the picket).

In its lawsuit, Vintage Wine Estates asked for an immediate halt to Caltrans construction to block left-hand turns at four Highway 101 intersections between Arroyo Grande and Nipomo. One of those intersections was Tower Road, the entrance to Laetitia Winery.

The group claimed the construction, which was set to begin this week, had not been properly analyzed before being approved, and accused Caltrans of pushing the construction through with haste because of “political interest.”

After meeting with Grant and other community members this week, however, Vintage Wine Estates has decided to pull its lawsuit and partner with them to improve safety along the Highway 101 corridor in South County.

“The advocacy of Mr. Grant and voices of the community have convinced us, in the interest of immediate public safety, the construction of the turn barriers should move forward as soon as possible,” read the letter. “It’s the right thing to do.”

James Grant spoke about the divisions that delay highway improvements. He feels Highway 101 and California highways can be improved in many places not just the intersection at El Campo Road where his son Jordan was killed in a traffic collision.

Vintage Wine Estates said it is committed, along with the Grant family and homeowners in the area of the crossing, to “advocate all-encompassing, short-term and long-term traffic safety solutions.”

These would include: fast-tracking an overpass at the El Campo Road intersection, adding a J-turn with acceleration and deceleration lanes, lowering the speed limit through the corridor and potentially adding a stop light at El Campo Road until an overpass is built.

“We pledge to work with the community, local and state government agencies to keep this a priority,” the letter concluded. “Vintage Wine Estates is committed to being good community citizens. Our door is always open for dialogue and we look forward to working together for many years to come.”

Caltrans says work on the four intersections along Highway 101 will proceed now that the lawsuit has been dropped.

Caltrans will announce a construction schedule when the details are certain.

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Kaytlyn Leslie writes about business and development for The San Luis Obispo Tribune. Hailing from Nipomo, she also covers city governments and happenings in the South County region, including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach. She joined The Tribune in 2013 after graduating from Cal Poly with her journalism degree.