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Toll Road extension shot down

The proposed Foothill South that would run near Trestles was rejected by the Department of Commerce today.

By Kristen SchottPublished: December 18, 2008 01:54 PM

After years of ongoing debate, the Department of Commerce upheld the California Coastal Commission's objection to the Foothill South – a 16-mile toll road connecting the 241 route to the 5 freeway in South Orange County.

The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency had argued that the road was both a national security measure, as well as a means to reduce traffic congestion. Agents also asserted that the proposed route was the best option of all the roadways studied.

But the Department of Commerce found the proposal to be inconsistent with the Coastal Zone Management Act, which aims to balance and preserve the coastal resources.

There is at least one alternative route though, according to the department – an 8.7-mile extension of the 241 from Oso Parkway to Avenida la Pata in San Clemente, as opposed to the current route that would cut right through the San Onofre State Beach park.

The TCA also has the opportunity to propose another route to the California Coastal Commission – one consistent with the coastal zone management program.

Today's decision has created quite a hubbub among local opponents to the toll road extension, such as San Clemente-based Surfrider Foundation.

"We're extremely happy. ... We've been at this for a very long time," says Mark Rauscher, the nonprofit's assistant environmental director. He is, of course, referring to the thousands of activists who showed up at the California Coastal Commission and Department of Commerce hearings, as well as the numerous other campaigns waged against the proposal.

"Though it may certainly not be over," he finishes, "it's going to be a very tough hurdle for the TCA if they want to continue with this route."

Past coverage on the 241 toll road extension:
241 Toll Road expansion debate to continue
Latest survey adds fuel to Toll Road vs. Trestles debate
High political drama in O.C.