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New Proposal For San Onofre Toll Road

Rejected Toll Road Agency Has New Plan

Remember the Foothill South toll road? The controversial road would have cut through a state park at San Onofre State Beach. The agency that wants to build it is back with another plan.

The controversial Foothill South toll road would have cut through a state park at San Onofre State Beach. The agency that wants to build it is back with another plan.

The road was proposed by the Orange County Transportation Corridor Agencies or TCA.

After years of debate and public hearings, the proposal was rejected three years ago by the California Coastal Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

But Joel Reynolds with the Natural Resources Defense Council said a TCA committee has approved a new proposal.

He said it is essentially the same plan as before except the 16-mile road would be built in segments.

"Continuing to propose the same toll road that would eviscerate the state park at San Onofre is no answer," said Reynolds.

He said there are better ways to reduce congestion in Northern San Diego and Southern Orange County, including widening Interstate 5.

"That's a solution for which there would be a consensus of support," said Reynolds. "I think that combined with a number of major arterial upgrades in the region could make the connections, could relieve congestion and move us forward."

The proposal is to build a four-mile segment on the northern end of the toll road, said Lisa Telles, TCA spokeswoman.

"What is being proposed is that we actually update the environmental analysis to cover just this four-mile stretch as well as understanding that we have built the other toll roads in pieces as well, so this is not a new concept," Telles said.

"The route is 16 miles," she said. "And so the northern portion of the route has not had controversy or concerns about the actual location of the route. We've built the entire toll road system in Orange County which is 51 miles in total, has all been built in sections."

Telles said since the Coastal Commission decision three years ago, the TCA has held more than 250 meetings with groups for and against the toll road.

"Most say there's still a problem that needs to be solved," said Telles. "The decision by the Coastal Commission did not solve the problem, which is there's only one route to get through South Orange County, which is a big bottleneck between Los Angeles and San Diego."

She said the TCA board will consider the proposal October 13.

Reynolds with the NRDC said he expects the same coalition of environmental and other groups will come together to fight against the new proposal.

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