241 Toll Road Expansion Stopped
Thu Feb 7th 2008, 7:23pm
freeway For some time now I've heard rumors of a proposed extension of the 241 toll road near my house. I use this road to commute to work every day, it's a small but significant freeway that offers me a much preferable alternative to taking city streets down to the 5 freeway and dealing with its congestion all the way to work. The privilege of driving on it costs... well I have no idea any more, it's been a while since I've looked at a bill, but it's about $5 every day (including the trips to and from work), or about $100 a month. It saves me a considerable amount of time and headache, and definitely worth the money. Just one of those costs of living where I do.

Last night, by chance I happen to be watching the late night local news (after Law and Order) and saw the top story was that the California Coastal Commission was still holding a hearing to decide if they were going to approve the extension or not. The proposal is to continue it from where it stops now, Oso parkway, all the down to the 5, somewhere near the Orange County/San Diego County border. Hundreds of people on both sides of the issue were congregated in a large auditorium, looking very tired, and chanting indecipherably. Huge signs with Save the Trestles were everywhere, along with plenty of pro-expansion propaganda as well.

Wow, what a coincidence. Living in quiet Rancho Santa Margarita (RSM), my city hardly ever makes the news. And here are the news anchors butchering my town's name (it is a mouthful). And an issue that I actually care about being decided right before my eyes.

Like any controversial issue, there are good reasons on both sides. Proponents of the expansion say that this has been on the books since the '80s as part of a plan to relieve I-5 congestion, that it would help with commerce, provide jobs, etc. I just read on our local town paper tonight that even our mayor is in favor of it for our town's economy. Opponents seem to have pretty much uniformly rallied behind the environmental card, citing how devastating a major thoroughfare would be to the San Onofre state park and to the wildlife (including trestles) found within.

My reasons for being opposed to the expansion are much more (I believe) honest, and I find it strange I don't hear more people saying the same. The 241 is about a quarter mile from my house, and the thought of another major I-5-like transportation corridor zooming by, with all the additional noise and pollution is not a pleasant thought. And I don't want to be subjected to an onslaught of additional traffic thanks to hordes of commuters from Riverside and North Orange County. I can just picture the day I get on the toll road to get to work and finding it just as jammed as the 5. I understand that people want relief from their long commutes to get to their distant homes, but sorry--not at my expense!

Fortunately, it appears the commission has shot it down late last night in an 8-2 vote. The word is it would pose too much of an environmental impact.

This makes for two close calls resulting in victories for my town: first the proposed El Toro International airport, to be built on the grounds of the old El Toro Marine Base (thank goodness that got voted down, can you imagine Nude Nude Nudes! and other seedy establishments in the middle of Irvine?), and now the 241 toll road. Hopefully RSM can remain a quiet, out of the way town!

Visitor comments
On Thu Feb 7th 2008, 8:01pm, Oscar posted:
Hey, I agree with you. Who wants a huge freeway right on their own back yard? I am glad this got denied.

On Mon Feb 11th 2008, 2:11pm, Bill posted:
I totally agree and yes it's somewhat selfish because I am also fairly close to the 241 in RSM. I think the 241 is perfect now as it serves our community and alleviates some of the 55/91 traffic. I just don't see how it really helps if you open it up through San Clemente. There is really nothing south of there for 45 miles. Wouldn't it make more sense to connect the 133 to the 73?

On Thu Feb 14th 2008, 6:35pm, David posted:
@ Bill. I think the proponents of this addition were hoping to connect with the Ortega Hwy. sooner than the 5 in order to allow those folks other means into OC. If this got the thumbs down, I wonder how the 'tunnel from Lake Elsinore' (to replace most of the 74) project is gonna fare.