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By Lillian Boyd

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) has officially submitted its comments on the latest efforts to relieve traffic, in a project known as the South County Traffic Relief Effort (SCTRE).

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), in cooperation with the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), is proceeding forward in initiating the environmental phase to conduct more detailed studies regarding proposed routes to relieve traffic.

In October, a memo from OCTA CEO Darrell Johnson explained the agency’s position on the proposed 241 Toll Road extensions through San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano.

“The efforts leading up to the environmental phase have raised concerns with OCTA,” Johnson said in the report, which was presented during the OCTA’s Regional Planning and Highway Committee meeting on Oct. 6. “These concerns generally focus on a lack of meaningful stakeholder coordination, questionable technical analyses, and conflicts with Measure M2 and other improvements planned by OCTA.”

In a Dec. 5 letter, OCTA officially submitted its comments for the public scoping period currently scheduled to close on Feb. 7.

“The SCTRE is not part of the transportation system vision,” the letter states. “The SCTRE project is inconsistent with current transportation system plans and regional transportation planning documents.”

Without adequate development of system and regional plans and meaningful stakeholder input, projects could emerge haphazardly and lacking public support. This creates confusion about the vision for the transportation system, the letter goes on to state.

One of the major concerns OCTA executives has expressed with SCTRE is the possibility that Measure M-funded roadways will be converted to toll lanes.

“If you vote yes (on Measure M2), you expect those tax-funded projects to be built,” Johnson said in a previous interview. “It’s extremely concerning to us, and we take it very seriously that we deliver on our promises.”

In February 2018, OCTA had initiated a project to build six new miles of carpool lanes between San Juan Creek Road and Avenida Pico on I-5. Ideas 11 and 12 would convert Measure M-funded carpool lanes—Avenida Pico to San Juan Creek Road—to HOT lanes.

In a previous statement, TCA had said the agency is aware of OCTA’s concerns.

“TCA has had, and will continue to have, opportunities for robust input from the public and stakeholders, including OCTA,” the statement said. WHAT’S NEXT: In the scoping period thus far, TCA and Caltrans have hosted three community meetings in San Clemente, Mission Viejo and Dana Point in an effort to educate the public regarding the proposals and to gather input. The 30-day public-comment period has been extended to 90 days, closing on Feb. 7

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comments (2)

  • An expedient way to stop the TCA-

    On December 19, 2019 I finally received documents that I have been trying to get for almost two years. There is sufficient evidence contained in them to make a request to Wildlife Agencies to Review two 75 year SPL permits that were granted to Rancho Mission Viejo for the Development of Rancho Mission Viejo.

    Federal Law mandates that these permits be REVOKED if under the (NCCP/MSAA/HCP) and (SAMP) agreements mitigation does not equal or exceed the incidental take. The agreements require that the NCCP conserve the ecological integrity of large habitat blocks, ecosystem functions, and biological diversity.

    Based on the New Information I have received, I have asked the agencies to review two Permits. If the review shows any of the following, the Permit must be revoked.

    (1) That Rancho Mission Viejo has failed to maintain proportionality between take and mitigation as required.

    (2) That shows that Rancho Mission Viejo has failed to comply with specific terms and conditions contained in the permits.

    (3) That shows that the information provided by Rancho Mission Viejo in support of LOP Permit SPL-2015-00054 may have been false, incomplete, or inaccurate, and/or

    (4) New information; has surfaced, that the Wildlife Services may not have considered in reaching the original Public Interest decision such as:

    Subdivision Map Act Violations

    Misuse of 401 Wastewater Certification No. R9-2014-0144

    The 10% shift in the alignment of the original “F” Street does not qualify as a “minor amendment” of the NCCP

    This potentially means that at a minimum, the TCA will be forced to open up a new environmental review for any further construction of the Toll Road south of the Oso Bridge with the Lead Agency for NEPA being Caltrans. The TCA will no longer be able to piggy back on RMV’s 401 Certification for “Modified” “F” Street.

    45 Day Review Process- so we should all know the outcome very soon.

    Happy New Year San Clemente and South Orange County!

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