241 Extension Builders Figure If You Can't Beat 'Em, Piecemeal 'Em

Categories: 241 Toll Road
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Developers of the despised Foothill (241) Toll Road expansion into San Clemente figure if you can't beat 'em, piecemeal 'em.

That's the takeaway from a Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency committee approving $206 million be spent for the first four miles of a planned 16-mile extension that would ultimately connect with the San Diego (5) Freeway in San Clemente.

The Finance and Operations Committee Wednesday dedicated another $3.8 million for plans to clear financial and environmental hurdles. The full Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) board must still approve the scheme, and no proposed completion dates have been released.

The southern section of the whole enchilada cuts through San Onofre State Beach, something that has produced vehement opposition from surfers, environmentalists and generally progressive politicians, and admonishments to try an alternative route from the state Coastal Commission and U.S. Commerce Department.

The new strategy would have the first phase pick up where the 241 currently ends at Oso Parkway and continue to a point near Ortega (74) Highway in San Juan Capistrano, something no one is going to get too worked up about. But phase two would extend the road farther to Avenida Pico in San Clemente, while the final section would link with the I-5. The final two sections are what has produced the most opposition.

To visualize, here is the complete proposed extension:

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Courtesy of the TCA
To get an idea of phase one, picture the route from just above Oso Parkway to a little bit shy of Ortega Highway:

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Courtesy of the TCA
Save Trestles, a coalition of many groups fighting the toll road expansion into South County, believes it has a better alternative: connecting the 241 with the San Joaquin Hills (73) Toll Road that runs from Irvine to Mission Viejo.

They call this plan The Beltway:

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Courtesy of Save Trestles
According to SaveTrestles.com:

Connecting the 241 and the 73 dots in Mission Viejo would ease south-county's east-west commute-conundrum by offering OC foothill communities a direct route to Irvine,  Costa Mesa and John Wayne Airport, bypassing freeway traffic as far east as Euclid at the 405, and Jamboree at I-5.

The Beltway creates a perfect south-county traffic loop. With improvements to Jamboree and Laguna Canyon Road now complete, residents could circle OC from Tustin to San Juan Capistrano and never touch a freeway!

Foes argue the TCA's north to south obsession is based on maps drawn up in the 1980s and '90s that included an international airport at the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, a dead project that arose from the ashes as Irvine's Great Park.

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