The on-again, off-again plans for an extension to a toll road that serves as an alternative to congested Interstate 5, the only freeway linking Orange County to San Diego County, looks to be back on again.
The board of directors of the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency, which runs the toll road, voted last month to develop an engineering plan and complete environmental assessments on a four-mile extension of the toll road, according to a release. The $3.9 million analysis is expected to take 12 months.
The board's proposal would extend the toll road from the current terminus at Oso Parkway to the vicinity of Ortega Highway, but the agency also wants to look at an extension that would connect the road to I-5.
Connecting the 241 Toll Road to I-5 has been part of a comprehensive county, state, and federal transportation planning effort for more than 30 years.
A previous plan that would have extended the road through Camp Pendleton, a U.S. Marine base, was protested by environmentalists who feared its impact on the San Onofre State Beach and Trestles surfing spot. The alignment was rejected by the California Coastal Commission in a decision upheld by the federal government. Agency officials say they haven't stopped their efforts continue to modify the project so agreement can be reached.
"When I began as chairman of the agency this year, my goal was to get the process of completing the 241 moving forward again. This approach makes sense to me," said chairman Bill Campbell in a statement. He also invited those in the environmental community to participate in the environmental assessments that will be undertaken as part of the initial planning.
The Transportation Corridor Agencies are two joint-powers authorities formed by the California Legislature in 1986 to plan, finance, construct, and operate Orange County's public toll road system.
Fifty-one miles of the system are complete, including the 73, 133, 241, and 261 Toll Roads. It doesn't look like the JPAs are going to have an easier time reaching consensus this time.
According to the release, representatives from the Surfrider Foundation and the Natural Resources Defense Council spoke against the proposal. In support of the proposal were speakers representing the Orange County Taxpayers Association, the South Orange County Regional Chamber of Commerce, the South Orange County Economic Coalition, the Southern California Association of Governments and the Orange County Transportation Authority.