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A Step Closer to La Pata Extension

Environmental studies and route win county approval, but funding is still missing on the $90-million highway project.

Wanting to break ground to avert 91-freeway-style traffic snarls, county officials on Tuesday morning approved the environmental studies necessary to propel construction of the La Pata Avenue extension.

However, approving the studies did nothing to reconcile the for the $90-million connector, which would link San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente. Officials need to secure $42 million before any soil will turn.

"Is there any way that we as a board can find funding faster, sooner, quicker?” 2nd District Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach asked Tuesday.

He and 5th District Supervisor Pat Bates said closing the transportation gap in La Pata–as well as from Oso Parkway to Trestles—is vital not only to daily commutes, but to create a secondary evacuation route to the 5 freeway.

“Certainly the evacuation issues that have come to the forefront [since] the earthquake and tsunami in Japan” should be kept in mind, said Bates.

In approving the environmental reports, the Board of Supervisors also approved an alignment for the extension. La Pata Avenue would be widened from three to five lanes, starting about 2,700 feet south of Ortega Highway and running to the Prima Deshecha Landfill. The road would also be extended from the landfill south to Calle Saluda and Avenida La Pata in San Clemente.

The road's path would come as close as 400 feet to homes in the Talega community. Although two Talega residents told the board this was an improvement from the 100-foot distance proposed two years ago, they said they couldn't fully support the alignment.

An alternative path that called for the connector to run closer to the Forster community to the west didn't get "equal billing," they said.

"I don’t think the neighbors in Talega have been given a fair shake in this [Environmental Impact Report]," said Talega resident Val Ignat. "We will never know what the benefit might have been on the western alignment."

But planners said the eastern alignment—the one supervisors approved Tuesday—is the one that's always been most-seriously considered. The western alignment would have traversed protected open space areas and would have required the city of San Clemente to use eminent domain to acquire rights of way, said project manager Harry Persaud.

Jenna Chandler May 25, 2011 at 01:37 AM
Supervisor Pat Bates made the 241 toll road extension part of the La Pata conversation during today's meeting ... she said the La Pata project and the foothill extension are key to relieving traffic in South Orange County, and for having an emergency evacuation route. You can watch the meeting here http://govwebcast.ocgov.com/PSPortal/Public/OrangeCounty/Webcast.aspx
Charles the Man May 25, 2011 at 01:55 AM
That is all fine and good. They can talk as much about the toll road but there is no way the number of agencies that are justification of the various areas are never going to allow a toll road to destroy that watershed. The environmental tipping point has already been reached. Anyone can throw up a red herring and say that it will relieve traffic, doesn't means it's true. Shutting down San Onfre would be a better idea. That way you don't need an escape route because there is nothing to escape from. Heck, even Jeff and I agree on that. The toll road is a none starter.
jeff s May 25, 2011 at 02:35 AM
jenna, no disrespect but damn right we agree on that - chucky and me may not see eye to eye on everything in town but the toll road will unify ALL of us against a foolish highway to nowhere. ..escape route....? what a JOKE -play into the fear tactics.. by the time the fool road will be built, the san-o plant would be shutting down anyhow, there are only 12 more years on the plants' contract, ..then it shuts down. escape route - you desperate corporate TCA failured road cronies make me laugh... ..PS/ Pat Bates in in the money laundering business with the failed bankrupt TCA, tell her to come pay us a visit down in SC sometime - ...that is if she even knows where it is... what a joke - again..
smoothpuss2 May 25, 2011 at 04:07 AM
What Pat Bates failed to tell you is that for San Onofre to get re-licensed each time that it must provide an emergency evacuation route for all residents and workers. That evacuation route does not include the toll road or extension. That evacuation route involves shutting down the I5 so that all southband traffic is stopped and the southbound lanes converted to northbound lanes. That provides 12 lanes of traffic north bound from San Clemente not including the emergency lanes. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has found that more than adequate since the reactors were licensed 40 years ago. So when Pat Bates talks about an emergency evacuation route, I think she should first examine the evacuation routes currently approved before she starts touting the toll road. Did Pat Bates mention at all that the Toll Road is failing financially. The are looking for an extension of six years of their bonds. If they don't receive the extension, it will result in a severe cash flow problem for the toll roads and eventually bankruptcy.
Jenna Chandler May 25, 2011 at 05:46 AM
No offense taken! Just wanted to be clear about how the tollway topic entered this story

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