[UPDATED: TCA's Thoughts] Time for a Rematch? TCA Rekindles 241 Toll Road Talks, Citing Japan Devastation; Surfrider Foundation Responds

swindle_1.jpg
Surfrider Foundation
The swindle'n continues.
UPDATE, MAY 9, 4:20 P.M.: The basis for the most recent PR campaign--pushing the need for additional evacuation routes in the case of a emergency at SONGS or Camp Pendleton--was a concern expressed in a public poll from November 2010 (months before the tragic events in Japan), according to Lisa Telles, a spokeswoman with the TCA.

The TCA sent out 14,000 mailers with response cards, asking residents to rank their reasons for why the 241 Toll Road extension should be built. In total, the TCA received 562 responses. From those responses, "Security" was listed as the fourth major reason, behind "Wasted Time and Traffic Relief," "Quality of Life," and "Safety."

But if the success of the Route 73 Toll Road is any indication, with its dipping user numbers, alleviating traffic isn't going to be a long-term benefit. Let's be realistic, for a large percentage of drivers, paying $5 every day to skip traffic is a financial hit they can't afford or don't choose to make.

As for the Surfrider Foundation's point that San Clemente residents wouldn't want to be driving toward whatever emergency may have occurred south of the city, Telles pointed out that in the proposed extension plans, there would be an interchange off Avenida Pico, near Talega, and there had also been a proposed interchange off Cristianitos Road. 

ORIGINAL POST, MAY 6, 9:29 A.M.: Somehow, some way, the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) is determined to get the extension project on the 241 Toll Road approved and completed. TCA's newest strategy: using the devastation in Japan as means to seemingly scare voters into demanding the projects' completion.

The TCA recently unloaded another PR blitz, distributing a press release and door hangers throughout South Orange County, reiterating the alleviation-of-traffic claim, along with suggesting the toll road could ultimately help save lives as well.

Problem is, the logic in the scare tactic seems flawed.

The ad campaign alludes to the possibility of a terrorist attack or a natural disaster affecting the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), requiring an immediate evacuation of the surrounding area. "Nightmare traffic on I-5 raises local concerns about lost time, safety, security," the press release read.

As Chad Nelsen, Environmental Director for the Surfrider Foundation, points out, the flaw is believing, in a time of widespread panic or emergency, San Clemente residents are expected to head south toward the nuclear plant in order to reach the toll road.

"[The TCA] is trying to use the tragedy in Japan as a springboard to make this pathetic argument that there's a need for the toll road as an evacuation route," Nelson said.

In a press release Surfrider circulated to counter the TCA's "campaign of misinformation," the nonprofit pointed out that neither the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or Southern California Edison (which operates SONGS), support TCA's claims that the evacuation routes and plans in place are inadequate, or need to be supplemented by the toll road project.

The Surfrider press release also singled out TCA board member Jim Dahl, a former San Clemente mayor and fire captain, who said there is no alternative route if "Interstate 5 is shut down for any length of time."

The fact is that San Clemente does have planned evacuation routes, using both Interstate 5 and PCH, and in the case of a disaster, both directions on Interstate 5 would be redirected northbound, making the 241 toll road useless, since it would connect to Interstate 5 south of the city.

As Surfrider pointed out, considering Dahl's past involvement with the city, it would seem he should be aware of these points.

TCA officials have acknowledged in various reports that they don't have any new alternatives. About a year ago they tried to present an alternative route that would go further into Camp Pendleton and lessen the impact on the state park, but military officials nixed that idea quickly.

Nearly two years ago, TCA's preferred route, through San Onofre State Park, was voted down, 8-2, by the California Coastal Commission and at a later appeal with the Commerce Department. Surfrider Foundation was among the most vocal opponents then, rallying surfers and citizens behind the cry, "Save Trestles!" for the famous surf break. 

Nelson called the most recent move by TCA "a little bit of a mystery."

He continued: "Why does the TCA exist? One reason, to build these roads, not to try to solve traffic problems."
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13 comments
Door hangers
Door hangers

Lookingfor weak materials – Your first stop in finding the weak link in door hangersis the material itself. Many people do not realize it, but their door hangersmight already have deteriorated before they even had a chance to give theirmessage.

Octaxpayer2011
Octaxpayer2011

Seems like I remember the question ask about using the toll for san onofre evcuation and I heard the current routes plan is OK. Do not need Toll for this. They changing that statement now? Oh and remember the fires. Guess what the Toll road was closed during that time because of the fires were on the toll roads and would not let people pass. when will they give it up? lies, lies over and over. They just want to expand housing ,so we will have more issues. I remeber the mayor from Villa Park talking how this will help them. How does she think this wilkl help. Its 40 miles away and already clogs up the 91, so more will make it better how is this? Same with Fullerton mayor. All idiots.

JackGunter
JackGunter

 There has not been one single road ever built that helped create "less traffic". The only city engineer who believes another road is going to lower traffic levels is either thinking with their wallet or has never been to/hear of LA.

Jroche4
Jroche4

No 241 Toll Road extension.  It is unnecessary, expensive and it will just destroy more Orange County wilderness. 

Diane
Diane

In Japan the people were advised not to flee the tsunami in their cars; unfortunately, many did, and this caused massive traffic jams. People were stranded and ended up getting swallowed up in their cars by the tsunami. We would have the same problem here not because there are too few roads but because we have such a large population. If we have a major disaster I think we are pretty much out of luck, sadly.

Guest
Guest

Unfortunately, Surfrider, like other environmental groups, refuses to take a stand on the reason we 'need' more roads to avoid increasing traffic -- immigration-driven population growth. Guess the 'old dudes rule' crowd would rather that cheap lawn care was available, so as not to have lawn mowing cut into their 'session' time.

Screw them and TCA

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

But just THINK of all the tolls TCA could collect from people fleeing SONGS!

Guest
Guest

We allow 1 million *legal* immigrants a year -- probably 20-25% of those settle in California. That's 200,000 -- 250,000 people , 2/3 of a Santa Ana a year. Six Santa Ana's and a Garden Grove over a decade. They have to live somewhere, and they have to have roads.

Guest
Guest

I knew someone would say something along these lines.

Yes, I've been to the exurbs recently. The people in Temecula are native-born, mostly white (at Del Taco there recently I was served by a white kid!). They are living in East Jesus because they don't want to live in a barrio or little Saigon with 2-3 families crowding into single-family dwellings.

And since I am writing from South OC, I can tell you that a lot of the folks in Dana Point , and of course SJC, and even San Clemente are in fact recent arrivals.

Seriously, are you guys that obtuse?

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

They're not living in the 949, dude. Have you been to Talega lately? Ladera Ranch? Dana Point? It's not exactly teeming with the just-arrived masses.

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