Toll Road Rage: Documented Incompetence

Illustration by Matt Bors

The Transportation Corridor Agencies have a new Environmental Report, and it's a laugh riot.
It "details" their plans to extend the 241 toll road through San Onofre State Beach, one of the most visited state parks in California. To ease concerns that it will destroy the environment of San Mateo Creek, ruin surfing at Trestles and fail to relieve traffic, TCA describes all its mitigation efforts in Section 4 of the document. But you wouldn't know it from the table of contents.

Section 4 is all about effects, impacts and mitigation. Each subsection clarifies an issue: 4.3 discusses farmland, while 4.5 covers pedestrian and bicycle facilities. However, 4.4 simply reads, "Affected Environmental Impacts and Mitigation Measures Related to." Related to what, you may ask? Socioeconomics and environmental justice, the former including fascinating financial figures for most South County cities and the latter relating to environmental impacts of the project on low-income and minority groups. Like, say, American Indians, whose land the proposed road carves through. TCA claims that "no individuals identified themselves as members of minority or disadvantaged groups during the scoping process." So TCA guesstimated with figures from the 2000 Census. I'd love to be able to throw in those kind of stats, but our paper has a higher standard for relevant data.

In the TOC they list only 27 subsections in Section 4. Yet the document itself has a Section 4.28. Kinda like "Debra," the hidden track buried past six minutes of silence at the end of Beck's Midnite Vultures. The TCA's extra tune goes a little something like Irreversible and Irretrievable Commitment of Resources. "This Section describes what important resources would be used or removed by the project Alternatives. These include the materials, labor and energy needed to build and operate the project; land and present uses of that land directly taken to build the project; environmental conditions degraded or destroyed by the project; and public service capabilities used by the project." I guess it's true what pop music says—commitment really does mean destruction.

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