By Sam Elters, Chief Engineer, Transportation Corridor Agencies
In a March 18 Letter to the Editor, Steve Pezman misstates several important aspects of the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA’s) new concept for completing the 241 Toll Road.
Mr. Pezman asserts TCA does not appreciate how valued the rural valley of San Mateo Creek is to the residents of San Clemente. A large portion of this valley is slated to become the Sierra Training Area utilized by the Marines at Camp Pendleton for combat readiness, training and tactical operations. According to the Secretary of the Navy, the training area will include the use of pyrotechnics and simulated munitions, heavy equipment, improvised explosive device training, and convoy and aviation operations. With knowledge of the planned use and in an effort to not impact this essential Marine training, TCA designed the concept alignment roadway embankment to screen noise and views of the proposed training area from the nearby San Mateo Campground.
Mr. Pezman’s letter also describes how the toll road concept would connect to Interstate 5 via an elevated interchange that “would degrade the experience of surfing at Trestles.” The proposed road alignment was designed specifically to address concerns about views from the beach and the experience of walking along the trails to reach Trestles. The concept alignment’s southbound connection to I-5 would tunnel under I-5, not bridge over it, eliminating views and avoiding the trails to the beach.
Mr. Pezman also suggests an alternative to the toll road that would involve extending existing Cristianitos Road to connect with the 241 creating a “mellow country road.” This is a concept we heard a few times during our stakeholder outreach program conducted over the past 18 months. The concept was analyzed and both Cristianitos Road and the Interstate 5/Cristianitos interchange would need to be reconstructed to accommodate increased traffic. We suggest Mr. Pezman ask more park supporters about this idea. We did ask this question during our extensive public outreach and many didn’t like it for the same reason they opposed the original alignment.
The new concept to move the toll road route to avoid San Onofre State Park is just that, a concept. This concept, as well as all other alternatives, was developed using state-of-the-art engineering analysis and design based on facts and science, as opposed to ill-informed assumptions.
Our intention is to continue the dialogue on how to best address traffic congestion on I-5 and city streets and the safety concern of having only one route through South Orange County.