Bush Administration Rejects O.C. Toll Road Plan
Rendering of Project Produced by the Save San Onofre Coalition
Yesterday, the United States Commerce Department surprised both detractors and supporters of the plan to build a $1.3 billion, six to eight lane extension of California 241 in Orange County, when it decided to uphold a decision of the California Coastal Comission to halt the project. The appeal to the Bush Administration drew more than 35,000 written comments following a hearing that attracted more than 6,000 attendees.
The Commerce Department’s decision, while great news for highway construction opponents isn’t a condemnation of giant highway construction projects in general. Rather, because there were other options to build other highway projects the Department could find no reason to overturn the state’s environmental board.
Nobody was more surprised than Jerry Amante, the Chair of the partially-publicly funded Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency which had pulled out all of the tricks to try and get the project passed including smearing opponents in pieces produced with agency funds. He tells the Times:
"I’m stunned that any right-thinking secretary of Commerce could make
this disastrous a decision," Amante said. 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
While the decision was cheered in many quarters, including the Times’ editorial page, this matter is by no means settled. While playing coy with his options, Amante has vowed to keep fighting to build his highway project of choice. When other giant road projects, such as a 8.7-mile extension of the Foothill South through San Clemente that would join with arterial roads to connect with the I-5, isn’t a big enough highway project for your needs, Jerry Amante is your man.