Taxpayer Dollars Used to Attack Taxpayers Opposed to More Highways

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Rendering of Proposed Interchange Created by Opponents of Project

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

  • THis is a clear abuse of authority and of tax dollars. THere should be a hearing on using tax dollars for this purpose. You know, on the east coast, they start a project with community outreach and working with the community to find a compromise at the beginning so that there is less opposition later. Perhaps if road builders would realize that building a highway affect everyone, not just their bottom line, perhaps they would not have as hard of a time. Highways affect communities, quality of life, and the economics of an area. History has shown that and you would think people in this area would know better buy now. By the time you build or widen a highway, it is almost always above capacity at rush hour by its completion. It’s not the answer. Perhaps they should try investing the money in a more comprehensive mass transit system to get people out of their cars.
    YOU CANNOT BUILD YOUR WAY OUT OF TRAFFIC!!! And using tax payers’ money t promote their own self interest on a project type that historically doesn’t help is obscene.

  • OC Driver

    There’s growing gridlock on I-5 (I get stuck in it regularly, along with millions of other commuters and visitors). We need the 241 extension as an alternate to I-5. Those who pay to take it won’t be on I-5, reducing traffic. It worked in San Diego, where they added a toll road and it took traffic of the 805, reducing gridlock and commute times significantly. So you can build your way out of traffic. Also, the photoshop on this site and others of the freeway interchange is a huge hoax! Probably four times the real scale of the road. The real interchange is on the east side of I-5 at Basilone Road on Camp Pendleton, in a fairly desolate area a half mile from the beach and the path to Trestles. The 241 will improve the quality of life for everyone driving in the region. And a majority are for the road! At a meeting in San Clemente, they talked about a survey that showed some 60 percent in favor. Easy to see why. How many drivers are there versus how many surfers and no-growth advocates? Hopefully those making the decisions will go with majority rules.

  • What Taxpayer Dollars?

    Who needs facts when there is an agenda to promote? The headline of the article is, quite simply, wrong. While TCA is a government agency, it is funded by the tolls from those who use the roads, NOT by taxdollars.

    I could just as easily say that the Sierra Club is using taxdollars to try to defeat a public infrastructure project. It would be as accurate as your headline.

  • johnny

    “While TCA is a government agency, it is funded by the tolls from those who use the roads, NOT by taxdollars [sic].”

    No. The OC voice reports that the TCA’s smear campaign “is entirely financed by public taxpayers’ dollars in the form of federal loans and gifts”. The idea that toll revenues could cover the entire campaign is ridiculous; it will take decades for toll revenues just to pay back freeway construction costs of roughly $300 million per mile.

  • johnny

    How sad that some OC residents would rather destroy a state park than spend 5 more minutes in traffic. As usual, freeway construction sounds like a great idea if you’re rich and don’t live anywhere near where the freeway is going to be built. Freeway opponents instantly become “surfers and no-growth advocates [zealots?]”. Conveniently, there is no mention of the sizable coalitions of freeway opponents who are less easy to marginalize.

  • Marcotico

    I’ve heard that line from OC Driver before, but if you look at a map the 241 and the 261 (existing toll road) runs along the eastern side of the county., and never intersects with the 55 or the 57. For most of its length it runs through empty space. So the only existing people taking it will be those commuting from Riverside to Southern Orange county. While this is not a trivial number, it will hardly effect traffic on the 5. However what it will do is open all that empty space to developers, and this is really what this is all about.

    Another thing to consider is if everyone in South Orange County want this so bad why don’t they just connect to the 5 somewhere north of the park. Because all those cities like San Juan Capistrano, and San Clemente are full of NIMBY’s who would suddenly become overnight environmentalists and block any road widening in their cities. Just read the OC registers comments section whenever there is an article about widening the 74 (Ortega Hwy). All of a sudden all these people who care about traffic and mobility start talking about keeping “those people” in Riverside county out of their pristine communities.

    This 241 is a very complex issue, and is a perfect microcosm of freeway issues across the state. Who should have the last say, those affected by the freeway, or those affected by the traffic? Local residents or politicians concerned about the region?

  • 125 did not “solve congestion” on I-805. Few people take the tollway, even during “rush hour”. I rarely see traffic on it, especially compared to I-805. 125 was a waste as a tollway and far too expensive for the distance. If you think 241 is to “relieve existing congestion”, you’ve really are ignorant. The extension is to help NEW developement get built, adding yet more traffic. All 241 does is help those with commutes too long in the first place. MOVE CLOSER TO YOUR WORK!

  • Why are there so few cars in this rendering? They should have made it far harsher looking! It almost looks like I could ride my bike on this thing!

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