The thousands who have turned out at every turn to oppose the Michael Myers of Orange County road projects--the alive/dead/undead extension of the 241 toll road through San Onofre State Beach and perilously close to Trestles beach--can now find solidarity with many others.
They are otherwise known as 78 percent of registered voters in Orange County.
That's the conclusion of a California State Parks Foundation survey released Wednesday that also showed 64 percent of respondents strongly oppose the damn extension. Jeez, I think an international airport in South County drew more support.
"Orange County voters continue to overwhelmingly oppose the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) proposal to build their toll road through San Onofre State Beach--California's fifth most popular state park," says Elizabeth Goldstein, the foundation's president.
Turns out opposition to the proposed extension is not confined to Surfrider, other Save Trestles advocates, the California Coastal Commission, the Dubya Bush Commerce Department and the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board. The poll found opposition in all parts of the county, among all demographic groups, across party registration, among voters of each age group and among both men and women.
The foundation says it discovered the toll road is pooh-poohed by 71 percent of Republican voters, 84 percent of Democratic voters and 80 percent of Independents. When asked to choose between protecting state parks and beaches so they continue to be available for public use versus building additional toll roads to relieve traffic congestion, 78 percent went for protecting parks and only 16 percent chose the roads.
More than double the number of voters wanted the 5 freeway widened in both directions or more alternative transit like buses, vans and light rail to cut traffic than they extending the 241 or building and improving surface streets to link to the 5 or 241, according to the poll results. When asked directly to choose between widening the 5 and building the toll road through the park, 81 percent chose widening and only 14 percent chose the toll road option, the foundation says.
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"The public knows the 241 toll road project isn't needed and the irreparable damage it would cause to parks and our beaches can be avoided," said Goldstein, who called the current TCA strategy of building the extension in shorter phases a "waste tens of millions of public dollars" and an "ill-conceived project."
For the record, the TCA denies it is extending the 241 in phases and along the entire, originally proposed route through the park. It's Tesoro Extension, which represents about a third of the original route, was denied a water quality permit by the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board last June. The State Water Resources Control Board is scheduled to hear an appeal on Tuesday from the TCA, which has spent more than $300 million in public funds on the Foothill-South toll road extension and was recently cleared by its board to spend at least another $25 million.
The survey was conducted between Aug. 19-24 by a bipartisan public opinion research team including Voter/Consumer Research (Republican) and David Binder Research (Democratic), says the foundation. The results are based on 402 phone interviews with registered voters countywide.