As the region's population increases and our economy grows, the Transportation Corridor Agencies are looking at ways to ensure that Orange County’s toll roads remain a valuable, congestion-free alternative to local freeways.
Our toll road system is nearly complete, but the final 16-mile stretch of the Foothill-South (241) Toll Road, intended to connect with the I-5 Freeway just south of San Clemente, remains unfinished; and by 2020, traffic on the I-5 is expected to increase by 60 percent through this area of South County.
The Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) Board of Directors, of which I am a member, is committed to improving mobility and preserving our quality of life – now and in the future. We are charged with rendering decisions on an alternative for congestion relief that best serves the public interest – a solution that balances alleviating potential gridlock with preservation of much of the natural environment.
When completed, the proposed 241 will have a state-of-the-art water-treatment system that will ensure all the initial water runoff – water that contains most typical roadway pollutants like brake-pad dust and motor oil – will be captured and treated. In addition, TCA has agreed to treat the water runoff along a two-mile stretch of the I-5 Freeway near Trestles Beach. Today that water runs straight off the freeway and into the ocean untreated.
TCA will also build wildlife under-crossings so animals can travel throughout that region safely. Future native-habitat mitigation sites are planned and will be similar to the hundreds of acres of habitat throughout South County that TCA has already worked to restore.
The route for Foothill-South, as selected by your local elected officials on the TCA Board will not only offer commuters an alternative to increasing traffic congestion on our freeways, but would avoid the taking of homes and businesses as well as provide an all important escape route during times of emergency.
On the Master Plan of Arterial Highways since 1981, the proposed 241 is one of the most extensively-analyzed roadway projects in the nation and presents a unique opportunity to achieve a balance rarely afforded in the building of roads today: significant traffic-congestion relief; preservation and improvement of the existing natural environment; and protection of individual property rights.