Toll Road Foister Jerry Amante: We're Doomed

As chairman of the Orange County Transportation Authority, the Transportation Corridor System Board of Directors and the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA), Tustin City Councilman Jerry Amante (pictured) is all over the news today, reacting bitterly to the Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez's decision announced yesterday to uphold the California Coastal Commission rejection of the TCA's preferred route for the Foothill/South toll road extension.

For instance, as local environmentalists and thousands of others across the state were nursing their champagne hangovers this morning, Amante was telling KPCC 89.3 FM's Air Talk host Larry Mantle that foes of the plan to slice through San Onofre State Park and its beaches were "the minority of thousands" while millions more in north San Diego County, all of Orange County and elsewhere wanted the extension.

Anti-road activists have "been able to throw a roadblock in the path of progress . . . and to mire our residents in a poor quality of life for the sake of their interests," he said, while also alleging national security is also threatened.

Amante was also coy about the TCA's next step, although he did say a federal lawsuit challenging Gutierrez's decision will be among the options Amante's board will consider at their January meeting. He certainly did not sound as if the TCA is fixated on anything other than the route that has now been rejected by state and federal agencies.

Amante told the

Los Angeles Times

, "We don't intend to just throw our hands in the air and say, 'Oh well.' "

Gutierrez cited six alternate routes TCA could have considered. Amante told Mantle there were even 40 more than that when transportation planners first started looking at traffic relief for the area 20 years ago. The councilman claimed the route rejected by Gutierrez and the Coastal Commission was the most environmentally sensitive. In fact, he said something quite curious: "The Commerce Secretary's myopic decision condemns millions to choke on greenhouse gases while sitting in gridlocked traffic," Amante said.

Hmm. Let's say 1 million cars are passing along the 5 freeway between Orange and San Diego Counties, emitting greenhouse gases. By extending a toll road to, say, remove 250,000 of those cars from the 5 is going to reduce greenhouse gases ... how? Won't it just spread them around? 

A message has been relayed to Amante asking just that, but it's understandable if he does not get back right away since he's very busy talking with anyone and everyone right now.


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