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La Pata Connector Moves Toward Completion with Ambitious Schedule

The council comments and signs off on an environmental plan in preparation to build the $71-million road that will form an important South County arterial between San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano.

The city of San Clemente has taken another step in moving the $71-million La Pata extension forward, forecasting an ambitious 2015 completion date for the 3.7-mile connector.

“The schedule is optimistic but doable,” said Harry Persaud, project director with OC Public Works.

Persaud presented the environmental report for the council to comment on and sign off in preparation for the road, which will connect to Camino del Rio in San Clemente and run through the Prima Deshecha Landfill to connect to Avenida La Pata in San Juan, forming an arterial that is expected to host 13,000 vehicle trips each day as soon as it opens.

City Council members, especially Mayor Lori Donchak, and anti-nuclear power advocates have pushed for the completion of the planned road recent months, lauding it as an important evacuation route north if there were an accident at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station south of town.

Once the consultants present the report to agencies in San Juan and other commissions to get the project ready enough to solicit funding from state and local agencies.

$43 million is available for the project, Persaud said, and the city and the county would team up to ask for the rest from the feds and state.

Donchak suggested asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a grant to pay for part of the project, as it would be an important evacuation route.

Some residents spoke against the alignment of the project, saying that they didn’t want it so near their homes in Talega.

Others wanted to make sure the bike path that will be adjacent to the road be wide enough, and some criticized the way the road cut through hiking and equestrian trails, though the project includes three bike/pedestrian overcrossings that connect the trails crossed by the new road.

The Council voted unanimously to approve the report and add some of their own comments.

CORRECTION: Because of a reporting error, Harry Persaud's employer was incorrectly stated in an earlier version of this article. Patch regrets the error.

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