By Angela Musallam

YOLO COUNTY (CBS13) — A dispute between the Indian Health Service and Yolo County has a $20 million project on hold.

The IHS was approved to build an American-Indian youth substance abuse center off County Road 31, between Davis and Winters.

The Yolo County Board of Supervisors says there are issues that must first be addressed. It’s now filing a lawsuit with the court against the IHS.

Officials say the problem lies on a bend along County Road 31, which they say is traffic hazard because there’s no turning lane into where the facility is going to be built.

“It’s heartbreaking, I mean we are losing children at much higher rates than our non-native counterparts,” said Britta Guerrero.

Guerrero is the CEO of Sacramento’s Native American Health Center.
She says many Americans-Indian youths locally and nationally need treatment for alcohol and drug abuse.

“We need help,” said Guerrero.

She says American-Indian youth die from alcoholism at a higher rate than the general population as much as 514 percent above average. That’s why the Indian Health Service is proposing to build a 40,000 square-foot youth treatment center off County Road 31 in Yolo County.

The 32-room facility would be adjacent to the former DQ University. Coming off a sharp curve, Yolo County officials point out there’s no left turn lane into the proposed facility, which they say puts drivers at risk.

Their point was emphasized during CBS13’s interview with Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor, as a truck came to a screeching halt because of a traffic slowdown.

The county says it has other issues with the project, including loss of agricultural land, flooding concerns, and habitat disruption.

In a meeting last April in Yolo County, the IHS told officials it does not have the authority to use federal funds for county road modifications. County officials say they won’t pay for a left turn lane and are now taking legal action.

“It’s a necessary part of this project; they are entering a county road that’s heavily traveled, and they are not taking care of the traffic safety issues their project will result in,” said Saylor.

A battle over road improvements is now delaying the path for healing for American-Indian youth across the state.

“It’s our responsibility to do something, and Yolo County has the opportunity to be a part of the solution, and it’s a shame they’re going to miss it,” Guerrero commented.

County officials say they’re taking the matter to court if the IHS doesn’t address their concerns. Meanwhile, the IHS says it hopes it can work with the county to modify the road leading to the proposed facility.

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