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
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
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!