Garden Grove Mayor Bruce Broadwater has done more than anyone to make a mess of the notoriously congested 22 freeway. Now he's running for Orange County supervisor on a single-issue campaign neatly summed up on big red, white and blue signs: "Bruce Broadwater for Supervisor: He'll Fix the Flow on the 22 Freeway."
In October 2003, Broadwater and his city sued the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), claiming the agency is hoarding $199 million in state funds that should be used to widen his city's freeway underpasses and on-ramps. That suit stopped all work to widen the 22.
But by law, OCTA can't use that $199 million for freeways—it's earmarked for mass-transportation projects like light rail. And the other fund OCTA can tap—Measure M money—can't be used for widening city freeway underpasses or on-ramps. Measure M specifically states that cities have to pay for that work.
Cypress Mayor Tim Keenan, who also serves on the OCTA board of directors, took issue with Broadwater's claim that OCTA should pay for widening Garden Grove's freeway underpasses and on-ramps. He pointed out that, although Cypress has spent millions in federal tax dollars on street-widening projects in recent years, Garden Grove hasn't—and has no plans to do so.
"Garden Grove doesn't have any plan for its streets," Keenan said. "It wants OCTA to widen them, but is saying, 'You won't get any money from us.'"
That's because the city doesn't have any extra cash. Thanks to Broadwater, Garden Grove has already spent its street-widening funds in a massive land-grab to build a series of expensive hotels, which were envisioned by Broadwater to service his since-abandoned theme park project.
Reached on his cell phone, Broadwater refused to discuss his campaign to widen the 22—because he was stuck in traffic. "I'm in the middle of the street right now," he said. But he took the time to say that widening the freeway wasn't really his idea—an odd claim given his campaign posters. "I would love to talk to you about it. But it's not my plan, it's the city's plan."
"OCTA is doing everything in its power to improve the 22 freeway as quickly and efficiently as possible," said agency spokesman Michael Litschi. "We're continuing to meet with Garden Grove officials and hope to resolve the lawsuit soon to avoid any further delays to the project."
According to Keenan, Broadwater's lawsuit may force OCTA to begin the freeway-widening project in Orange as opposed to Garden Grove—where the traffic is much worse. "That's a fallback plan," Keenan said. "The urgent need is [to improve traffic flow] from the Orange Crush west to Magnolia Street. But if we have to go from the Orange Crush east to the 55 freeway, then that's what we'll do. I'm a little insulted by Bruce Broadwater's posters that are pinned up everywhere saying he'll fix the flow on the Garden Grove Freeway. It should say, 'He'll block the flow,' because that's what he's doing.'"