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Commerce Dept. nixes OC's 241 toll road

December 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A federal agency on Thursday rejected an appeal to build a toll road that would cut through one of California's most popular state parks and pass near a world-class surf break.The U.S. Department of Commerce said there was a reasonable alternate route for the proposed 241 toll road. The agency also disputed that building the road was vital to national security, which highway proponents had argued.

The decision upholds a ruling by the California Coastal Commission against the 16-mile road after opponents argued it would harm endangered species at San Onofre State Park and block sediment flows that create famous surf breaks at a beach called Trestles.

"Hooray, hooray, hooray! I'm so delighted," said state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who sued to stop the toll road twice in his former post as state attorney general. "It's a great victory for California."

The Transportation Corridor Agencies chairman Jerry Amante said he was shocked and disappointed. He said the agency would not decide on further legal action before a Jan. 8 board meeting.

"This decision is another blow to the Southern California economy, Amante said. "We are now destined for gridlock and increased greenhouse emissions."

The toll authority had argued the $1.3 billion road would play a key role in national security by providing an alternative to Interstate 5 if there is a wildfire or accident at the nearby San Onofre nuclear power plant.


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