Friday, March 02, 2007

Will We Really Be Speeding Our Way to Trestles on the 241?

{This is Part 4 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, Part 2 here, and Part 3 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! : ) }

Last November, The LA Times reported that new studies suggested that extending the 241 Toll Road to San Onofre State Beach might not be panacea for South Orange County's traffic woes, as the TCA likes to suggest:

New traffic studies contradict optimistic predictions that a proposed tollway through San Onofre State Beach would eliminate much of the congestion on Interstate 5 in South County.

Most of I-5 in South County will be "consistently congested" at rush hour by 2030 even if the controversial Foothill South toll road extension is built, according to the Orange County Transportation Authority's long-range transportation plan for 2006.

The forecasts assume construction of the tollway, a carpool lane each way on the I-5 and some interchange improvements. If only the tollway is built, the study suggests, the situation will be even worse, with motorists on the interstate seeing "severely congested" conditions.

So why wouldn't the 241 Extension to San Onofre help ease South County's commute? And oh yes, what can we do to ease South County traffic? How would you like to talk to me about it after the flip? Yes, let's do...

Let's start with the proposed route of the toll road. This thing would make it easier for South County motorists to make that all-to-important trip to...
OCEANSIDE?! South County commuters are looking for traffic solutions that will ease their commute to OC's commercial centers, NOT a toll road leading through San Onofre that would take them to Oceanside. They are looking for something that will make it easier to get to the Angels game in Anaheim, and to the job in Irvine, and to that important business meeting in Santa Ana, and to that cozy French restaurant in Newport. Now wouldn't it be nice if we were actually thinking about a solution that would connect South County drivers to where they want to go?

And will the 241 Extension even be a solution that would help EVERYONE in South County? So far, the evidence does not suggest this. If anything, it only allows for the rich and fabulous, who also happen to live conveniently close to the proposed route, to ride the new 241 Extension to San Onofre and ESCAPE ALL THE TRAFFIC ON THE 5... But what about everyone else? Well, they just get stuck in gridlock on the 5. So why are we building this toll road? Just so that the privileged denizens of Coto can speed their way to La Jolla more easily?

Now that we see how the 241 Extension to San Onofre will not do ANYTHING to ease South County traffic, then what can we do? How about what I suggested earlier this week?

So if this toll road extension destroys an important wildlife habitat, puts the jobs of San Onofre park employees at risk, ruins a great campground, annihilates one of the last great unspoiled beaches in Southern California, and doesn't even do a damn thing to ease traffic, then what good is it? After all, there are better alternatives. We can connect the 241 to the 5 AND the 73 at Laguna Niguel, and avoid the San Onofre wilderness while actually connecting South County commuters to where they want to go in OC! Additionally, we can do away with the non-compete agreement with the TCA that only serve to enrich the toll road operators while doing nothing for the people of Orange County. And perhaps if we start putting into practice better urban planning in South County, we won't have to worry about losing the beautiful wild spaces that make South County living so fantastic.

So why not complete a "toll road beltway" by connecting the 241 to the 5/73 interchange? Why not create a toll road accessible to MORE SOUTH COUNTY RESIDENTS, and one that would actually TAKE PEOPLE TO WHERE THEY WANT TO GO IN OC? Why not just dump the non-compete agreements with the TCA that only prevent the state and the county from improving the freeways that all of us use? Why not invest more in the Metrolink commuter rail system that has already had some success in getting people off the congested freeways, and getting them to where they want to go more quickly, easily, and comfortably?

There are many better solutions to South County's traffic woes than this ridiculous toll road to nowhere. We have great alternatives available to us right now... So why shouldn't we speed our way to real traffic relief with these? : )

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

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