Thursday, March 01, 2007

Speeding Our Way on the 241? Not So Fast!

{This is Part 3 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 read Part 1 here, and Part 2 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! : ) }

So much for whatever hopes the TCA had that this project could begin any time soon...

(From LA Times)

For more than a year, transportation planners have said that preparations for a toll road passing through San Onofre State Beach were on schedule.

On Wednesday, that message was revised.

Planners now say it will take at least two years longer than expected to get funding and permits for the controversial turnpike, which will complete Orange County's network of toll roads and link Orange and San Diego counties.

The Irvine-based Transportation Corridor Agencies had hoped to secure funding for the Foothill South by 2008, but underestimated the complexity of the permit process.

So what is it that's "stopping progress" on this great toll road to nowhere? Follow me after the flip for more...

So what is it that's now delaying completion of the 241?

The environmental requirements for state and federal wildlife agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are crucial for funding and eventual approval by the state Coastal Commission.

Ah, the Coastal Commission! Now why might they have issues with the 241 Extension? For starters, look at Article 3 of the Coastal Act. And specifically, Section 30223 states:

Upland areas necessary to support coastal recreational uses shall be reserved for for such uses, where feasible.

Now why should the Coastal Commission allow the 241 Extension to destroy San Mateo Creek, which is AN UPLAND AREA NECESSARY TO SUPPORT COASTAL RECREATIONAL USES?!

And oh yes, let's not forget Section 30231 of Article 4 of the Coastal Act. This states:

The biological productivity and the quality of coastal waters, streams, wetlands, estuaries, and lakes appropriate to maintain optimum populations of marine organisms and for the protection of human health shall be maintained and, where feasible, restored through, among other means, minimizing adverse effects of waste water discharges and entrainment, controlling runoff, preventing depletion of ground water supplies and substantial interference with surface water flow, encouraging waste water reclamation, maintaining natural vegetation buffer areas that protect riparian habitats, and minimizing alteration of natural streams.

Now how the hell does the TCA expect to prevent all that toxic stormwater to flow down San Mateo Creek into Trestles whenever there is rain? And oh yes, HOW CAN THE TCA EXPLAIN AWAY THE ELEVEN THREATENED OR ENDANGERED SPECIES THAT COULD VERY WELL BE WIPED OUT FOREVER IF THIS DAMN PROJECT WERE TO BE APPROVED??!! Now why, again, should the Coastal Commission violate the very law that it is supposed to be enforcing in order to satisfy the pipe dreams of the TCA?

Why should the Coastal Commission violate Section 30240 of Article 5 of the Coastal Act, which states:

(a) Environmentally sensitive habitat areas shall be protected against any significant disruption of habitat values, and only uses dependent on those resources shall be allowed within those areas.

(b) Development in areas adjacent to environmentally sensitive habitat areas and parks and recreation areas shall be sited and designed to prevent impacts which would significantly degrade those areas, and shall be compatible with the continuance of those habitat and recreation areas.

But how can the 241 Extension be designed to be "compatible with the continuance of those habitat and recreation areas" when this would destroy the entire environmentally sensitive area? That's the major dilemma here.

However, it looks like the Coastal Act may not be the only legal dilemma for the 241 Extension. The LA Times piece this morning also mentioned the lawsuits:

In addition to environmental work, other hurdles include several legal challenges, including a lawsuit by the state attorney general's office. The lawsuit says the proposed alignment is too close to an ancient Native American burial ground.

Yes, those lovely, delicious lawsuits! (From OC Register)

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed two Superior Court lawsuits [on March 23, 2006] to trip up the proposed extension of the Foothill (241) Toll Road, charging it would bring about excessive noise and an ugly view to park-goers at San Onofre State Beach, as well as severely damage sacred Indian grounds.

Prominent environmental groups filed a third suit, saying toll-road officials didn't try hard enough to find a different way to ease congestion in south Orange County.

So ya still want to speed your way to Trestles on the 241? Don't count on it, buckaroo! This ill-advised toll road plan may very well DIE IN LITIGATION HELL!

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