The first phase of the 241 Tollway 5.5 mile extension in south Orange County is currently under way, but construction won’t start until at least this summer, officials said Wednesday.
According to Paul Bopp, the project’s engineering manager with the Transportation Corridor Agencies, the engineers are still completing preliminary designs for the extension, which will allow the TCA to more exactly estimate the costs of the project. Rough estimates put the total construction cost at $200 million.
The designs for the extension, Bopp stated, will include environmentally friendly features such as four wildlife crossings and improve water quality by filtering and treating run-off water.
City councilman Jim Evert praised the TCA for their efforts in creating projects with relatively light environmental footprints.
“The TCA is doing an outstanding job,” Evert stated. “They make the environment better in many cases.”
The project will be “one of the greenest roads ever constructed,” Bopp said.
The 241 Tollway currently ends at Oso Parkway where the TCA hopes to begin construction this summer. They must obtain a number of state permits and complete the environmental review process, which Bopp said is set to finish in June.
Some residents worry that further extensions of the 241 will stop at Avenida Pico, leading to gridlock in the city, but Evert said that was unlikely.
“It’s not going to come out at Pico,” he said. “I just can’t see that happening.”
The San Clemente Chamber of Commerce, which hosted Bopp on Wednesday to update members on the project, supports the extension. They say it will provide traffic relief through the region and will provide commuters with an alternative route.
According to a study commissioned by the TCA, the construction of the toll road will provide economic benefits, which will provide more than 2,000 jobs and roughly $130 million in tax revenue.
-- Adam Townsend contributed to this article.