A crowd gathered before the California Regional Water Quality Control Board Wednesday afternoon to discuss a toll road in Southern California.
The Board’s meeting on Wednesday began discussing the 5.5 mile portion of toll road, that’s proposed to go from Oso Parkway near Tesoro High School to Cow Camp Road near Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano.
It was a continuance of a meeting in mid-March, which Los Angeles and Orange County residents and workers attended.
The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) wants to be granted a waste discharge permit. TCA needs this in order to move one step closer to constructing the State Route 241 Tesoro Extension.
Their goal is to begin construction in early 2014 and it would take approximately two years to complete the 5.5 mile stretch of toll road. More than 2,400 new construction jobs would be created, according to the TCA.
A TCA spokesperson told NBC 7, the project is designed to make traffic flow smoother in southern Orange County and provide an alternate route to the I-5. Lisa Telles, Chief Communication Officer for TCA, said the only decision before the Board today is regarding the 5.5 mile stretch.
“There is support and you will hear that people are against the project." Telles said, “I would challenge to say that they do not live where this project is going to be and they are talking about a project that they’re not going to benefit from and so why do they care and that’s my question to them.”
Opponents said, however, this is an important issue for people living in San Diego County.
“Yes, this permit is for the 5 miles in Orange County, but the thing is, if they get that permit for that first section, it essentially creates a domino effect for them to continue to build the road all the way to San Onofre State Beach which is entirely in San Diego County,” local resident Stefanie Sekich said.
Those against expansion of the 241 toll road told NBC 7, Trestles will eventually be negatively affected if the 5.5 mile toll road stretch is eventually built. They say while bodies of water in San Diego County may not be directly impacted with the stretch that’s before the Board today, there’s a domino effect that should cause great concern to residents here.
What’s more, another point of contention surrounds the Environmental Impact Report from 2006. Proponents say no supplementary EIR would be necessary.
Opponents say the problem relating to the 2006 EIR is two-fold. On the one hand, the TCA said another EIR is unnecessary, but is also saying the 5.5 stretch has nothing to do with the 2006 proposal that was denied. The 2006 proposal called for the 241 to be expanded from southern Orange County all the way through San Diego County. Opponents claim the TCA is saying two contradictory things.
Opponents also said building the toll road in chunks without additional studies is not legal.
After Wednesday's meeting, the Water Quality Control Board decided against approving the permits for the toll road. The board felt they weren't presented with the full scope of the work being planned for the toll road, which is why they denied the proposal.