Return of the 241 Toll-Road Extension: South County Officials Pen Scary Letter to Feinstein

Also known as "a concrete cage without walls."
Also known as "a concrete cage without walls."

The 241 extension saga in a nutshell: Transportation Corridor Agencies propose extending a toll road from Rancho Santa Margarita to the Interstate 5 in San Diego County, environmental groups flip out at the prospect of a freeway potentially encroaching upon San Onofre State Park, the state and federal governments side with environmentalists and spikes the plan, the TCA returns with a new plan, officials with the Marines at Camp Pendleton object to it in a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein, some people assume that the planned extension is finally dead.

New chapter: It's not dead. A group of six south-county city council members have sent a letter to Feinstein that you might call dramatic.

One key passage:

Gridlock" and "congestion" are more than phrase-making words. Indeed, the determined obstructionists which have poisoned the public debate over the 241 with absurd deceptions would have you believe traffic messes in Southern California are acceptable abstractions--mere nuisances as benign as a seasonal cold or Thanksgiving gluttony. 

 But less than a month ago, on Friday, February 26, 2010, gridlock and congestion served up doses of stark reality when a grenade was discovered in the middle of 1-5 in San Clemente. Traffic was not merely delayed. It was not a casual trifle in the daily life of South Orange County. Traffic was stopped. Period. For hours the lifeline of coastal commerce and living was brought to a dead stop--trapping tens of thousands of people in a concrete cage without walls.

That's not all. The letter, signed by representatives of Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Dana Point, Rancho Santa Margarita, Lake Forest and San Juan Capistrano, proceeds to list seemingly each and every traffic disturbance that has occurred on the 5 freeway over the last two years. The message: gridlock exists, and it's terrifying. The 241 is the only way to fix it.

San Clemente Mayor Jim Dahl says that he signed the letter on his own; it represents neither the official view of the TCA nor of the cities its authors work for. (All the signatories serve on various boards with the TCA) He points out that the letter was sent March 17, before anyone had seen this op-ed in the Orange County Register, reiterating that the Marines oppose any plans that would see the 241 run through Pendleton. 

"I think we can find a win-win here," Rancho Santa Margarita city councilman Jim Thor tells the Weekly. "I'm advocating that we should all work together for the benefit of the marines and traveling public in South Orange County."

The letter is below. It came to us from a toll-road critic, with this note: "What part of 'No' does the TCA not understand?"

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