Taxpayer Dollars Used to Attack Taxpayers Opposed to More Highways
The Transportation Corridors Agency, an organization founded in the 1980's to help build more highways through privatization, has thus far been stymied by local opposition from building a sixteen mile freeway extension for the I-241 through San Onorfre State Park by a coalition of environmentalists, surfers, concerned citizens and civil rights advocates. From packing a 14 hour hearing on the project with over 3,500 opponents of the widening to lobbying government officials, the groundswell against the extension project in conservative Orange County has been impressive and effective.
However, toll road agencies traditionally don't roll after a major setback when there's a road to build, so the TCA is fighting back. In addition to appealing the CCC's decision, they're also working to turn public opinion against their opponents by attacking them in mailers sent to Orange County households. The best part? The mailers are being paid for by tax payer dollars.
A TCA mailer sent to O.C. homes in July includes a photo depicting freeway gridlock. The caption reads, “Driving home just got harder,” and in bolder red text, “They don’t want you at ‘their beach’ even if it means double the time you spend driving home.”
Like other TCA opponents, Sierra Club attorney Mark Massara is outraged by the tactic. “The saddest part of their entire multi-million dollar ‘blame it on the surfers and environmentalists’ PR campaign is that it is entirely financed by public taxpayers’ dollars in the form of federal loans and gifts to TCA. What a sick scam: the public is financing a project the public is dead set against,” he complains.
The United States Secretary of Commerce will hear the TCA's appeal later this year. A public hearing on the complaint was postponed after it was estimated that 10,000 people would show up for a hearing at a UC Irvine Auditorium that only holds 5,000 people.
Image: OC Voice