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4 Miles of 241 Extension Could be Done in 2014, Tollway Officials Say

A committee of the Transportation Corridor Agency votes to build the extension in three segments—a plan that still needs approval from the Board of Directors.

would be built in three segments—rather than all at once—under a new plan that garnered initial approval Wednesday.

If all goes as Toll Roads staffers plan, the final engineering and construction could begin in as little as a year on a four-mile, $206-million stretch from Oso Parkway to G Street, slightly north of Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano.

Transportation Corridor Agencies Chief Tom Margro said that designing and building the 241 tollway extension in phases would allow the agencies to move forward on the long-stymied project.

“We will continue to develop an alignment to connect to I-5—we still have the long-range goal in mind and are working hard to accomplish it as well,” Margro told the TCA Board of Directors' Operations and Finance Committee Wednesday.

Will approval from the committee, the entire TCA Board of Directors will consider the new plan at its next meeting.

Project opponents worry that though this segment of tollway had not been contentious in the years-long debate to quash the 241’s proposed path through , it would create momentum to finish the rest of the road.

“It may create momentum that is hard to stop,” said Damon Nagami of the Natural Resources Defense Council, who attended the Wednesday meeting.

Director Peter Herzog of Lake Forest said he was all for the project, though he and some other directors urged staffers to see if they could find an engineering solution to extend the first phase farther south to connect to more well-traveled thoroughfares.

Director Sam Allevato of San Juan Capistrano said he was not averse to the segmented plan, but he abstained in the vote to approve it because he wanted to “obtain the consensus of my colleagues” on the San Juan Capistrano City Council.

He said, however, the TCA would have to do a good job selling its plan to segment the 241 extension to the public.

“The community may or may not be given information that is not in favor of this strategy,” he said. “So we need to get out ahead of this with a vibrant message.”

TCA Director Beth Krom of Irvine, the board’s lone dissenter against chopping up the project into segments, said she didn’t like building a chunk of road when the final alignment hadn’t been figured out yet. Furthermore, she questioned the accuracy of the projections of toll revenue—crucial to convincing investors to lend the TCA money for the project.

“To this day, we don’t have a single traffic projection that has proven accurate,” Krom said. “If you do this little segment, and you finance $200 million… and the traffic projections are not correct… I think the chances of ever getting funding for this agency again are small.”

Financing

Tony Hughes of Barclay’s Capital, which has handled several billion dollars worth of past TCA financing, proposed two possible ways for the agency to borrow money to get the initial segment built, both with drawbacks.

The first would be to issue bonds that would be paid off only after the TCA paid off its other lenders. Because of this, the interest rates on the new bonds would be higher, meaning the TCA would ultimately have to spend $268 million for a $206-million project.

The other scenario would allow the TCA to borrow cash to pay off existing bondholders, but the agency would then have to rely on revenue from existing toll roads to pay for construction of the new 241 segment. Toll revenue has been coming in under projections, TCA officials said at the meeting.

Timeline

If all goes according to TCA staff’s plan for the first 241 extension segment, consultants over the next year will hash out preliminary engineering, get environmental permits updated, set up the financing vehicles, assess endangered species habitat in the construction area and other preliminary work.

The Operations and Finance Committee approved spending $3.87 million this year to accomplish this, which will still need approval by the board as a whole.

David Lowe, TCA director of design and construction, said that staff could have all the necessary permits and clearances by October of next year for the board to approve construction, which would start late in 2012 and be done sometime in early 2014.

John Lusk October 06, 2011 at 04:18 PM
I hate to tell you this Mr. Salty but the "Ranch Plan" was started over two years ago. Take a look next time you drive down Antonio Parkway at Ortega Hwy. That work is for the "Plan." I know I worked on this before being laid off.
John Lusk October 06, 2011 at 04:27 PM
The slowdown in the economy actually has been good in the sense that all of the infrastrucre work and relocating work is putting people to work and probably being done at a reduced cost.
Capo Parent October 06, 2011 at 05:16 PM
The fallacy of the extension is the fact it will move traffice from I-5 in San Clemente to I-5/I-405 in Irvine. Have you seen what the I-5 & I-405 look like in Irvine, in the morning. By the way, how did the "projections" for 73 tollroad work out.
Capo Parent October 06, 2011 at 05:42 PM
Those dam environmentalist, they helped save Yosemite, Back Bay in NB, El Toror from an un-needed international airport, thousand of acres of open space in Orange County. The list of their "sins" is long at the local, state and national levels. Go back and revisit history. Many businesses in this country had no qualms in raping the envirnoment in their capitalist zeal to make money (for example, 3 Mile Island, Libby, Montana Asbestos Contamination, Picher, Oklahoma Lead Contamination & Anniston, Alabama PCB Poisoning, West Virginia/Kentucky Coal Sludge Spill & Love Canal Toxic Dump) Kinda of like what is going on in China today. Thankfully, there are many people who value quality of life over the almighty dollar.
j denton October 06, 2011 at 06:34 PM
The completion of the 241 tollroad makes sense and should be built with environmental sensitivity
John Lusk October 06, 2011 at 07:19 PM
EIRs are already in place for the toll road. When the original EIR was done some not so smart environmentalists "planted" a steel head trout in the upper portion of San Mateo creek. The problem with that was that the trout they planted during a "drought" was not native to the area and would have had to walk up to where it was found. The same stunt was tried in San Juan Creek and they were caught. Environmental Impact Reports are a vital tool in the responsible development process. Arborists are used to define native and non native or invasive plants and trees, Paleontologists study the prehistoric ramifications, etc. If all these people that don't want development practiced what they preach we would all still be living east of the Mississippi river.
Bill S October 06, 2011 at 07:21 PM
Bankrupt ideas run by a bankrupt company living on a ventilator. This will only move with the sale of more junk bonds. funny ideas by silly people....
John Lusk October 06, 2011 at 07:31 PM
This a reply to Capo Parent; Can you read a map? How is a road that goes from the south end of San Clemente to the 91 fwy in east Anaheim going to affect the I-5 / I-405 interchange that is at least 10 miles to the west of the 241 toll road?
Capo Parent October 06, 2011 at 07:44 PM
I think you meant to say can I see and understand a map. You read a book, an article, etc. As to the substance of your comment, I can see and "read" a map quite well. Do you really think most people coming up from San Diego and the southern most part of the OC are going to take the 241 all the way to the 91? Sounds like the traffic projections for the 73. Given the current traffic patterns, me thinks they will go down the 133 to I-5 or I-405.
John Lusk October 06, 2011 at 07:51 PM
Look it up. It's called "Map reading". Not seeing and understanding. It's part of navigation.
socalfam October 06, 2011 at 08:22 PM
This i s nothing but an attempt by Tony Moiso and the Rancho Mission Viejo Company to get capacity for their new city they want to build on the eastern border of San Juan Capistrano that will CRUSH the quality of life for all SJC residents. Shame on Allevato for helping them do it. I and many others believe fighting to protect our quality of life is worth fighting for. We need to start by ridding ourselves of Ranch puppets who promote this CR@P, just so Moiso can make even more money.
Wendy Bucknum October 06, 2011 at 09:29 PM
The Toll Roads have been built with no public funds and ultimately will be given to the state. All of South Orange County and North San Diego County will benefit from the completion of the 241. Proper infrastructure is good for our quality of life and for all commerce. This is great news that there is progress on this.
rick lyons October 06, 2011 at 09:59 PM
Capo Parent, the projection were absolutely false. That Toll Road is broke.
John Lusk October 06, 2011 at 10:08 PM
The 241 Toll Road was it's own separate entity but I believe they had to merge the funding sources with the 73 since the 73 never broke even. The sad thing with the 241 is that the contractor completed the project way ahead of schedule and got a very large bonus. However somewhere corners were being cut and soils inspections were not done as they should have. Consequently the road bed is constantly settling and shifting. That's why it's sometimes like riding an amusement park ride.
Mr Salty October 06, 2011 at 10:28 PM
"Start protecting capitalism instead birds." Now I KNOW I feel sorry for you. And pity. How very sad for you.
Squonk October 06, 2011 at 11:25 PM
The 14,000 homes at the Ranch have already been approved. Whether the 241 is built or not, those homes are going in sooner or later (depending on the housing market). If the 241 is built, you'll give these new residents a way to get north without driving west to get to the freeway.
Squonk October 06, 2011 at 11:29 PM
You are absolutely correct. The Toll Roads were built with no public funds. Mr. Lyons is referring to maintenance. Maintenance is done with public funds. The multi-billion dollard road construction effort was completed at no cost to the taxpayer and given to the state of California at no charge. I believe Mr. Lyons would complain about having to pay for oil changes and license fees if he were given a Porsche.
Judy October 07, 2011 at 01:32 AM
You have said absolutely nothing. No argument against the toll extension. No real, substantive comments. An intellect shortage perhaps? How sad. Pitiful really. Do you even have a job? Or are you just a full-time job killer?
John Lusk October 07, 2011 at 03:34 AM
Judy, I don't know who your last reply was addressed, but I for one have felt it was a road to nowhere without the extension. It would be great if it could be funded some way other than a bond issue. However at today's rates it would be much less expensive than the interest rates on the bonds for the 73. I just hope that a reasonable solution can be agreed upon for the south end of it in northern San Diego County.
Mr Salty October 07, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Facts and Figures. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0922-census-commute-20110923,0,6073009.story The mean commute time in the L.A.-Long Beach-Santa Ana area has stayed relatively flat since 2006, peaking at 28.6 minutes in 2007, according to the American Community Survey. Commute times in nearby Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario declined slightly every year since 2007, but the data show that residents still face longer commutes than in L.A., with a 2010 average of 30.6 minutes. The data released Thursday included dozens of other housing, economic and transportation measurements. For example, Americans commuting by themselves in cars, trucks or vans rose slightly from 76.1% in 2009 to 76.6% in 2010, and the number of carpoolers fell from 10% to 9.7%.
Mr Salty October 07, 2011 at 02:13 PM
BUILDING MORE ROADS CREATES MORE TRAFFIC!!!!! http://www.infrastructurist.com/2011/06/06/why-building-roads-creates-traffic/ http://www.activetrans.org/blog/mgeraci/shocking-news-building-more-roads-creates-more-traffic http://www.pennenvironment.org/reports/environmental-health/healthy-communities/highway-hold-ups-how-road-building-creates-congestion-and-wastes-tax-dollars http://www.assmotax.org/Releases/AMCT%20release:%20building%20more%20roads%20relieves%20your%20wallet,%20not%20congestion.php http://www.npr.org/2011/07/09/137708751/more-roads-may-pave-way-to-more-traffic
Mr Salty October 07, 2011 at 02:29 PM
The TCA has been a money losing proposition from the very beginning. Diminshing ridership every year. Total Junk Bond status. The CHP and Caltrans are both employed to maintain them so regardless if you use them or not, you pay for them. If you really are that concerned about traffic, move closer to your work, carpool or LEAVE 10 MINUTES EARLIER! DISBAND TCA !
Judy October 07, 2011 at 03:29 PM
Air pollution is considered a regional impact. Shifting traffic to another highway from the 5 freeway would have no additonal air quality impacts since the total emissions would be the same, just splitting between the TCA tollroad and the 5 freeway. AQMD calls the region's air a "toxic soup" based on their MATES II and III studies. Only a broad change to cleaner engines would really help reduce air pollution, which is what U.S. EPA and CARB has already mandated. Development merely shifts people and cars within the So Cal region, the total emissions for the region would stay the same. Arguing that new roads in So Cal would have more impacts is totally bogus.
Capo Parent October 07, 2011 at 04:07 PM
Squonk You're analogy is misleading. You forget that the public provided the land for the toll roads. So you're analogy about Mr. Lyons complaining about paying for oil changes and license fees is off base. However, the use of a Porche is releveant. Porches are hgh maintenance, just like the toll roads. In fact, not only is the public on the hook for maintaining he tolls roads, they are also on the hook when they need to be rebuilt because of the initial poor construction. Further, to my knowledge, none of the toll roads have yet been give to the state. That will not occur until the bonds are paid off, and who knows when that will happen given they were just extended an additional 6 years because the toll roads are "doing so well."
Ronald Douglas Kennedy October 07, 2011 at 04:09 PM
Mr Salty: "Total Junk Bond status" Not so the TCA played a real slick game hear with the County of Orange's help giving the Road Bed right of way to the TCA in a Deed, I belive the TCA now owns the "Dirt". Till all there 5% + Bonds are paid off. as shown in www.newportcoastdrive.com exhibits 5 A. and 5 B. The Irvine Company gave a deed Trust for Dirt to O. C. for Newport Coast Drive and the 73 which crossed there land holdings, as the LCP Road Mitigation required, 5 A. then the county gave this original irrevocable offer of dedication to the TCA as shown in 5 B. How much of the rest of the 73 right of way the TCA are owners of is a question, But there 5 B. land holdings are worth $. XXX,XXX,XXX. there defiantly not junk bonds. Why City, State's & Feds. Don't do there own Bond projects wear they have a noun Tax Payer way to pay for the project is a question. But that's were real fortunes are made by private players working The Best Government Money Can Buy.
Capo Parent October 07, 2011 at 04:10 PM
You're partially right and wrong. New roads do have envirnomental impact, especially from a run off standpoint. Further, by building roads into areas with no roads you increase the pollution levels and poor air quality into those areas.
Capo Parent October 07, 2011 at 04:15 PM
The Rancho Mission Viejo development was approved and not contingent on the completion of the 241. According to the Ranch, the 241 is not needed to handle the traffic to be generated by the Ranch's development. Me thinks that is more than a little while lie. In addition to trying to get new roads the Ranch is also trying to get sufficient water rights for its development. Let's see how badly SJC is screwed in the process.
Squonk October 07, 2011 at 06:16 PM
Remember those who said the 73 Toll Road was going to create an environmental armeggedon if it were built? It was built, and the environment was actually enhanced by TCA's mitigation projects. Check out the before / after images here: http://www.bonitacreekclassroom.com/whatis_restoration.htm
socalfam October 07, 2011 at 07:41 PM
To all those who are posting misleading info about the Ranch's development entitlements, the Ranch does NOT have entitlements to build 14,000 homes and 5 million sf of retail/commercial (in other words, another city). They have PLANS for the other Planning Areas in which the majority of the development will be built, but only have ENTITLEMENTS to build approx. 1500 homes in "Planning Area 1" ("PA-1"). They need additional road capacity to get the entitlements for the additional development in the other Planning Areas. That's where the toll road comes in. Look it up before you make inaccurate or untruthful claims.
Judy October 07, 2011 at 10:15 PM
Air pollution mixes with the cleaner air and disperses throughout the region; it does not stay at a fixed location. Also, worse air quality from other areas, like LA and Riverside, get transported around. Emissions from stacks or tailpipes cannot be confined or kept from dispersing, so emissions from the 5 freeway are already going inland with the onshore breeze. So shifted the 5 freeway emissions 2 miles inland will have no additional impact. Also, with less traffic jams on the 5 freeway, less pollution is emitted from cars sitting in traffic idling. New roads also have adequate storm drains and catch basins to contain runoff. New developments have bioswales and catch basins to manage runoff. Sorry, I don't buy it.

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