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Steven Viele, M.D., San Clemente

The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) and its paid propagandists would have us believe that building a toll road through San Clemente would benefit our town’s health. They say that by “relieving congestion” on Interstate 5, a 241 Toll Road extension would lead to a “decrease in dangerous pollutant emissions” that impact our health.

Is the I-5 really that congested in San Clemente? A one-month study we did on Sept. 17 showed that average commute times from City Hall to Mission Hospital during morning and evening rush hour traffic was 15.9 minutes, compared to a best commute time of 14 minutes. The average commute in the opposite direction was 17.9 minutes compared to a best commute time in that direction of 16 minutes.

These averages included weekends and a few days where accidents increased the commute times and they were done during a continued period of I-5 construction near the Avenida Pico interchange. There can be increased traffic at times during seasonal weekends, but no traffic studies (except the TCA’s) use weekend travel to determine traffic flow. You don’t build toll roads for a weekend traffic rush.

Even if the above were ignored, there is at least as much evidence that a toll road emptying onto the I-5 in San Clemente would increase rather than decrease our freeway traffic, as the I-5 immediately south of San Clemente can be a bottleneck during certain times.

More important than any of the above is the fact that a toll road would increase these dangerous pollutant emissions along the toll road route where there would be an extensive, multi-lane highway constantly spewing dangerous pollutants into areas where the vast majority of people spend far more time than on freeways or toll roads.

Compelling evidence suggests that people living, working and going to school near roads with heavy traffic have an increased risk of adverse health effects associated with exposure to mobile source pollution. Numerous epidemiologic studies have consistently demonstrated this.

In 2003, a California legislation prohibited building new schools within 500 feet of major highways and busy traffic corridors. Does it make sense for the TCA to build a toll road that will come as close as 100 feet to the Tesoro campus, close to several other schools, then fly directly over the fields of SCHS?

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comments (3)

  • Thank you Dr. Viele for caring for the health and safety of our children.

  • Exactly…traffic is seasonal/summer here and usually weekend related. Also, just because there is a toll road doesn’t mean that will get you to your destination faster. For example, yesterday there was apparently a tanker overturned at the 71 freeway and someone posted to avoid the 241 and the 91 because of massive traffic. A toll road is not an easy solution to traffic needs-stopping/halting development, driver education/preventing accidents, changing work locations/schedules/telecommunications if possible are just a few ideas that would probably make traffic congestion less.

  • I don’t think many in these United States have heard of the “numerous epidemial studies” of heavy traffic and health. A worthy topic (and further ‘challenge’ to finding places for new roadways.)
    The topic of tolling always brings my mind to the various serious news magazine stories, Congressional Research Service, PIRG, and CBO too that determine the more economical business model for building roads is the old “free-way” style funded by tax breaks to municipal bond holders. (Yes the old style “Private” money rather than fashionable more profitable for investors PublicPrivatePartnerships) (CRS R43575 Aug 2016).
    The primary virtues of PPP Tolling or ‘free-ways’ is for political candidate longevity. The multiple tolling industry Lobbyists all contribute handsomely to re-election PAC’s as toll rates are increased each six months or yearly those elected “representatives” NEVER need to confess “There is no such thing as a FREE road” but be calm, I NEVER voted to raise your taxes! !

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