Tag Archives: 241 Extension to Trestles

How About Some REAL Traffic Relief?

Just when you thought the fight over the toll road to Trestles was wrapping up, another shot is fired! Orange County Supervisor Pat Bates has now entered into the fray, and she has offered a truly bizarre reason for extending the 241 to Trestles in today’s “Orange Grove” column in The Register. You just have to see it to believe it:

The spectacular truck crash and fire that destroyed a freeway overpass leading from the Bay Bridge in San Francisco last month should be a wake-up call for Orange County. Today the Santa Ana (I-5) Freeway is the only major roadway in and out of south Orange County. The lack of alternate routes through this area has long been frustrating. But, as the East San Francisco Bay Area has learned, it can also be dangerous.

As reported recently in The Orange County Register, if a similar traffic accident were to occur at the El Toro “Y,” south county would be virtually cut off. Should a freeway accident occur further south, there are even fewer options. In San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente, roadway options are limited to the I-5 or city streets.

The Orange County toll road system is nearly complete, but the final 16-mile stretch of the Foothill (241) Toll Road, intended to connect with the I-5 Freeway just south of San Clemente, still needs to be built. This roadway would not only offer commuters an alternative to increasing daily traffic, but an escape route during emergencies.

HUH?! How the heck would a toll road to Trestles help South County in the event of an emergency? Follow me after the flip as I try to make sense of Pat Bates’ bizarre “logic”…

OK, so let’s go through all these points that Pat Bates is making. And let’s try to separate fact from fiction here:

Some opponents to this traffic relief alternative say we should just widen the I-5, but, as we saw in the Bay Area, no matter how wide the freeway is, if it ever is shut down, alternatives are needed.

The final section of the 241, known as Foothill South, has been on the county’s Master Plan of Arterial Highways since 1981. It has gone through two separate environmental impact studies and, when built, will be one of the most environmentally sensitive roadways in the state.

OK, I’m getting really sick of having to repeat myself here. I think most of us now want to see the 241 completed. I just don’t see why state law has to be violated in order to build a toll road through a state park. There are clearly better options for extending the 241. How about extending the 241 to the 5/73 Interchange in Laguna Niguel, which would actually take people to where they want to go? And while we’re at it, how about a more comprehensive solution for relieving Orange County traffic that includes more Metrolink and OCTA bus service?

But anyways, back to Pat Bates. Here’s more of what she has to say:

This roadway will have a state-of-the-art water-treatment system that will ensure all the initial water runoff, water that contains most typical roadway pollutants like brake-pad dust and motor oil, will be captured and treated. Once the road is built, the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) has even agreed to treat the water runoff along a two-mile stretch of the I-5 Freeway near Trestles Beach. Today that water runs straight off the freeway and into the ocean untreated.

TCA also will build wildlife undercrossings so animals can travel throughout that region safely. Future native-habitat mitigation sites are planned and will be similar to the hundreds of acres of habitat throughout south county that TCA has already worked to restore. TCA’s natural-habitat restoration project has gone so well, that gnatcatchers are pairing in record numbers on TCA sites and various other native plants and animals are making a comeback.

Really? Is this why American Rivers named San Mateo Creek as THE MOST ENDANGERED WATERWAY IN AMERICA? Is this why environmental studies have reported that the habitats of the seven endangered species that call San Onofre home WOULD be threatened? Is that why Coastal Commission staffers are so worried about this toll road to Trestles? But I guess so long as Orange County politicians aren’t worried, every thing’s just A-OK.

But wait, Pat Bates’ “argument” gets even more unbelievable!

Orange County residents, businesses and elected officials all understand the importance of traffic relief and the need to connect the 241 to the I-5, but there are several politicians who have attempted to usurp our local decision-making ability. Last month, Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, introduced Assembly Bill 1457 to stop the building of Foothill South. Last week, Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, introduced an amendment to a congressional defense bill, and a House committee approved it, that would give the state of California authority to stop the toll road, even though it is planned for federal, not state, property.

Since 1991, the TCA has been working with five federal government agencies and six state agencies in addition to local and regional organizations to obtain the many permits and approvals needed to build this final 16-mile connector road. Despite what some politicians think, more government is not the answer to completing our regional transportation network.

Ooh, Jared Huffman! We should be so scared. But really, his legislation can’t even make it through the Legislature, let along get a signature from Arnold. That won’t stop the toll road from being built. And all Susan Davis’ amendment to the federal defense authorization bill would do is require TCA to obey state law in extending the toll road. Now if TCA really were obeying the law on building this toll road, then they shouldn’t be worried about having to comply with the law.

So yes, traffic in South County is horrendous. That’s why we need a comprehensive plan to relieve traffic here, such as the one recently proposed by OCTA. We should enhance the 5, but we certainly shouldn’t stop there. Let’s also expand Metrolink service in the area, and let’s add some more express bus lines to make it easier for South County commuters to access train service. And oh yes, while we’re at it, why don’t we make new communities in South County “smart communities” that are designed for an easy commute to everywhere we need to go?

So yes, South County needs traffic relief… So why not something that actually DOES THAT? : )

CA-47: Loretta Responds & Mr. Republican Insider Attacks

It’s a classic “I’m just…” defense. In this case, Loretta claims she’s “just” ensuring the completion of the 241 tollroad will comply with state law — pointing to the nominal purpose of the amendment while refusing to admit to its real purpose. But that’s a red herring.

The intent of the Davis amendment is obvious. Davis carried this amendment at the behest of the Surfrider Foundation. Surfrider doesn’t want to ensure the 241 completion complies with state law — they want to ensure it is never completed. Period. That’s the purpose of the Davis amendment, and Sanchez is lying if she claims not to know that.

Tell us lies, Matt/Jubal. Keep telling us sweet little lies.

My fabulous Congresswoman actually took time to write a reasoned response to the crazed rant on The OC Register’s editorial page against her vote to ensure that TCA obeys state law as they extend the 241 Toll Road, and this is how Red County/OC Blog treats her. How much more shameless and despicable can they get over there?

Follow me after the flip as I work my way through the right-wing distortions to get to the TRUTH of this matter…

Here’s what Loretta Sanchez has to say for her own action:

I have not taken a position against the toll road […] In fact, I have been supportive of other similar construction projects, such as the 73, which has been of benefit to county residents and was built with sensitivity to environmental concerns.

What concerns me is that the SR241 be constructed with the same care and attention as these other projects. As the law stands now, it permits the “recipient of the easement to construct, operate and maintain [the highway], notwithstanding any provision of state law to the contrary.” If the Davis amendment is adopted it means that the impact on the environment will be fully reviewed, and labor will be paid according to prevailing wage law.

I have been told that those involved with the construction of SR241 have observed every state law that applies. If that is the case, then the Davis amendment will have no effect. There is a concern that future state laws will prevent construction of the road for one reason or the other. I share that concern. I remain vigilant so that Orange County can determine which roads are built in our community. Our democratic process will lead to the best solution.

There. Wasn’t that simple. Here’s an explanation of Loretta Sanchez’s position on the toll road, directly from Loretta Sanchez.

Loretta supports extending the 241, along with me and many other progressives in Orange County. We just don’t want state law to be violated, just so that TCA can build the road through an ecologically sensitive state park. If TCA’s proposed route through San Onofre is truly as legal and environmentally sensitive as they claim it to be, then they should have no problem. However, we know that this road would destroy the great waves of Trestles, along with the habitat of SEVEN ENDANGERED SPECIES. Sorry, but I don’t call that “environmentally sensitive”, and I definitely don’t see how this complies with state environmental laws. Maybe that’s why TCA is so afraid of having to comply with the law.

There are other options for the toll road. How about extending the 241 to the 5/73 Interchange in Laguna Niguel, wher it would actually take people where they want to go? And again, how about a completely comprehensive strategy to relieve traffic in South Orange County? How about expanding commuter rail service here? How about better bus service? Light rail? More live/work communities?

That’s all we’re asking for here. Can TCA please comply with the law, and come up with a toll road extension that doesn’t violate state law? And can OCTA work with TCA on developing a comprehensive plan to relieve South County traffic? We’ve had enough lies, distortions, and complete lunacy. It’s time for some hard truth, and for some real solutions to Orange County traffic.

Who’s Afraid of Obeying the Law?

(Cross-posted at the California Progress Report)

Yesterday, The Orange County Register’s editorial page took aim at Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) for supporting an amendment to a defense authorization bill that would simply require the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), the public-private organization that operates Orange County’s toll roads, to follow state environmental laws as TCA considers plans to extend the 241 Toll Road through South Orange County. Even though this amendment only asks TCA to follow the letter of the law in extending the 241, The Register seems to think that any request for TCA to extend its toll roads legally somehow adds to Orange County’s traffic woes. How does compliance with California state law cause additional traffic in Orange County? And why should TCA be afraid of the law?

Follow me after the flip for more on why TCA might be afraid of the law…

The Register’s editorial begins with outright falsehoods, and devolves into complete absurdity.

The Transportation Corridor Agencies for 20 years have been working on an extension of the Foothill (241) Toll Road from Oso Parkway to the I-5, a route that would skirt through a portion of San Onofre State Park, on Navy-owned land near the San Diego County line. The extension wouldn’t harm the heavily visited oceanfront portion of the park, but it would relieve the increasing congestion that often results in the I-5 resembling a giant parking lot rather than a freeway.

Sorry, but this simply isn’t true. Not only would the “oceanfront portion of the park” suffer huge damage as a result of what happens upstream, but the entire park would be obliterated. It would alter the sediment flow of San Mateo Creek, thereby destroying the world-famous waves of Trestles. It would destroy the habitat of at least seven endangered species, including the California gnatcatcher, the Southern California Steelhead Trout, and the Arroyo toad. Their native habitat would be gone if TCA were to have its way. All of this clearly violates the Coastal Act. Is this what TCA is afraid of?

What would all this ecological destruction do to alleviate traffic in South Orange County? Nothing. All this environmental damage would result in no traffic relief for South Orange County. So what is the point of building a toll road to Trestles if it does not actually do anything about traffic? Is this what TCA is afraid of?

The Register editorial goes on to distort Rep. Sanchez’s views on extending the 241, and distort what extending the 241 to Trestles would actually do to ease local traffic.

Rep. Sanchez said in media reports that she doesn’t want to stop the toll road – although environmental groups on her side said that was their goal. Toll road supporters point to stacks of environmental impact reports and other documents produced over two decades to gain state approval for the plan, thus disputing claims that the toll road somehow skirts the state’s environmental review process.

The Democratic-backed measure Rep. Sanchez voted for is different from the original one proposed by Rep. Davis, which would have clearly stopped the road by rescinding the Navy’s authority to grant an easement to toll road operators. Still, it’s too bad that a local congresswoman would join efforts to add to rather than reduce traffic congestion in Orange County.

Loretta Sanchez has said that she does not want to stop the toll road, and that’s the simple truth. She simply wants TCA to comply with state environmental laws in extending the 241. Is this what TCA is afraid of?

The Register editorial page simply doesn’t get it. TCA should not be allowed to ignore state environmental laws in order to build a toll road to nowhere that does nothing to ease traffic. Actually, TCA should not be allowed to ignore state environmental laws, period. That’s all that Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez were trying to say. That’s all that the House Armed Services Committee voted to say last week. TCA must not violate California state environmental laws by building a toll road through a state park.

This struggle over the toll road to Trestles has been a long one, but it’s actually not just about this one toll road to Trestles. It’s about preserving our public parks for the use and enjoyment of the public. If TCA gets its toll road to Trestles, this park simply couldn’t survive as the campgrounds would be closed (to make way for the toll road) and the beach ruined (due to the toll road). California State Parks wouldn’t be able to renew the lease when it comes up in 2021, and once the military is ready to sell, the developers would be ready to buy. And if this park goes, which one is next? Which park would we allow to be opened next for a toll road, or a freeway, or a few hundred new houses, or a multi-million dollar luxury resort?

This is what TCA is afraid of. Once people realize the threat, they get it. Our public open spaces should remain open for all the public to enjoy. That’s why we have state parks in California. That’s why San Onofre State Beach exists. This parks belongs to us for us to use, not for TCA to abuse. TCA and The Register editorial page simply don’t get it. But fortunately Susan Davis, Loretta Sanchez, and most of their colleagues in Congress do get it. Let’s hope that Congress follows through in requiring TCA to obey the law, and allowing all of us to continue enjoying our open spaces.

Call Congress to THANK THEM for Saving Trestles!!

UPDATE: I just got off the phone with one of Loretta Sanchez’s DC staffers, and he gave me the good news. The Davis Amendment passed, along with HR 1585! We’re one step closer to saving Trestles for good. And yes, Loretta DID vote for the amendment! : )

Remember what I said yesterday about Susan Davis’ amendment to the Defense Authorization bill that would require TCA to comply with state and federal laws in extending the 241 Toll Road? Well, the amendment has come up for a vote TODAY… And we won! Now we know that TCA’s preferred route for the Foothill-South 241 Extension would rip through and destroy the last great stretch of coast in Southern California. We also know that the Foothill-South 241 Extension would do nothing to relieve traffic, and it would totally violate the law.

Basically, we know that this proposed toll road to Trestles is a total waste of our time and money… And now, we know that our representatives in Washington do as well. We need to  thank all our Democrats on the Armed Services Committee who voted for this timely amendment. Follow me after the flip to find out how you can thank House Armed Service Committee members for doing what’s best for ALL OF US in Southern California…

Contact these California Democrats to thank them for joining Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) in asking TCA to comply with the law and save Trestles for many years to come:

Ellen Tauscher (D-Walnut Creek)
DC Office: (202) 225-1880
Walnut Creek Office: (925) 932-8899
Fairfield Office: (707) 428-7792
Send an Email

Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove)
DC Office: (202) 225-2965
Local Office: (714) 621-0102
Send an Email

And contact these California Republicans to tell them that there’s nothing “conservative” in wasting any more tax dollars on a project that violates state and federal law, and that goes against the very principles of conserving our natural resources:

Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon)
DC Office: (202) 225-5672
Local Office: (619) 448-5201
Send an Email

Buck McKeon (R-Santa Clarita)
DC Office: (202) 225-1956
Local Office: (661) 254-2111
Send an Email

Ken Calvert (R-Riverside, SAN CLEMENTE)
DC Office: (202) 225-1986
Riverside Office: (951) 784-4300
South Orange County Office: (949) 888-8498
Send an Email

Don’t delay! The future of Southern California’s coastline depends on our action! : )

Will Congress Stop the Speeding to Trestles?

({This is Part 9 of my special report on the proposed extension of the 241 Toll Road to San Onofre State Beach (aka Trestles). If you’d like, you can find the other stories in the “Speeding Our Way to Trestles” series here. As the debate heats up over Trestles and the 241, I’d like to go in depth and examine all the issues involved… And I’d love for you to come along for the ride as we explore what can be done to relieve traffic in South Orange County AND Save Trestles Beach. Enjoy! : ) } – promoted by atdleft)

Oh, my! Will Washington now enter the fracas that is the proposed Foothill-South 241 Extension to Trestles? Look at what I just saw in today’s OC Register:

A proposed toll road through parkland that has become Orange County’s most explosive environmental controversy could be jeopardized – and perhaps even killed – if a small amendment added to a defense authorization bill is approved today.

The Foothill South toll road, which would bisect San Onofre State Beach park and cut through highly sensitive natural habitat, has pitted environmental activists against residents who say the road is vital to prevent south county gridlock as populations rise.

Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, who is sponsoring the amendment, believes she has the votes to repeal a 1999 law that authorized the military to grant the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency the right to build a road on 340 acres of parkland.

Authorization from the Navy is necessary before the toll road, which must clear a variety of other regulatory hurdles, can be built.

So can this mean the end of Foothill-South? Follow me after the flip for more…

The House Armed Services Committee will likely be voting on the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Authorization bill, and Rep. Susan Davis is hoping that her amendment is included in that bill.

“She’s heard from constituents in the district who enjoy the parks and the beaches and have a lot of concerns about the process,” said Aaron Hunter, Davis’ press secretary.

In essence, the amendments would revoke congressional authorization for the military to convey building rights to the toll road agency. It would also erase previous legislation intended to insulate the toll road from state and federal laws that could prevent its construction.

Activists who were aware of Davis’ effort Tuesday said they did not believe her amendment would kill the toll road project but would simply create a “level playing field,” forcing the agency to obey the same laws as other road builders.

“This abuse must stop,” said James Birkelund, a staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Santa Monica. “The agency should comply with federal and state laws.”

Davis’ staff said her action wouldn’t prohibit construction of the road. It would “just have to follow the same rules and regulations that all other state projects do,” Hunter said.

But apparently, TCA is not happy with this. They are convinced that Davis is conspiring to kill the toll road. And they are livid!

“It takes away from the Navy the ability to grant us an easement,” said Rob Thornton, an attorney who often represents the tollway agency. “I think it would kill the road in this location. The state obtained the lease with the understanding that the Navy reserved the ability to approve the construction of roads.” […]

“What she’s trying to do is kill the road,” said Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona. “The millions and millions of dollars that have been spent on environmental studies to advance this would be for naught.”

Well, why did all that money have to be spent in the first place? All Calvert had to do was have one of his staffers read the Coastal Act. It would have been much cheaper, and they could have determined immediately that the proposed path of Foothill-South violates California state law.

And again, isn’t it obvious that the proposed path of this toll road would drive us to complete environmental catastrophe? It would alter the sediment flow of San Mateo Creek, thereby destroying the world-famous waves of Trestles. It would destroy the habitat of at least seven endangered species, including the California gnatcatcher, the Southern California Steelhead Trout, and the Arroyo toad. Their humble abode would be gone if TCA were to have its way. And oh yes, wouldn’t this violate a certain federal Endangered Species Act?

All Susan Davis wants to do is ensure that TCA is following the letter of the law when it comes to this Foothill-South 241 Extension. Why would they feel so threatened by this? Oh yeah, that’s why.