The Surfrider Foundation has issued a strongly-worded response to a renewed campaign by the Transportation Corridor Agencies' efforts to generate support for the to finish the 241 toll road through San Onofre State Park.
The TCA sent questionnaires to residents that were labeled an "educational campaign." Some of those who responded to the questionnaires said they were concerned about escape routes if there were a terrorist attack or other disaster at the .
The final leg of the 241 toll road, the release states, would offer another way out of the city.
The Surfrider Foundation accuses the TCA of using the recent disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami for marketing purposes.
"Once again the Transportation Corridor Agencies are attempting a sway the public with a campaign of misinformation," the Surfider release states. "However the fact that they would do it by capitalizing upon the recent misfortunes of the people of Japan is beyond contempt."
The TCA points out, however, that the 14,000 mailers were sent out and 562 responses were returned in November and December, months before the natural disaster and nuclear crisis in Japan.
Surfrider takes particular issue from this quote from :
“When the I-5 is jammed, traffic spills over onto our surface streets and it’s sad and scary to watch,” Dahl said in the TCA release. “We have only a couple of parallel streets. They get congested and the intersections are blocked. Safety is a primary concern.
"In the event of a natural disaster, how do 65,000 people evacuate? If Interstate 5 is shut down for any length of time, there is no alternate route," Dahl continues in the release. "I have been a fireman in San Clemente for 38 years and I understand the safety issues surrounding transportation.
"We need to complete the 241 so San Clemente residents and everyone in southern Orange County and Southern California has improved mobility and an alternate route to I-5,” Dahl said.
The Surfrider foundation disputed Dahl's assumptions.
"To date, neither the , the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or Southern California Edison, the operator of the [San Onofre nuclear plant] have supported the TCA's claims that the current evacuation routes and plans need to be supplemented by construction of the ," their release states.
Furthermore, Surfrider officials say that, according to Orange County's disaster preparedness plan, the 241 extension wouldn't be able to feed traffic onto the 5 freeway because all lanes would be dedicated to northbound traffic in the event of an emergency.
"The residents of San Clemente should find his (Dahl's) comments, and this latest effort by the TCA appalling," the Surfrider release states.