San Clemente residents fed up with attempts to build toll road through town

Jessica De Nova Image
Thursday, November 14, 2019
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Many living in San Clemente say they are fed up with what some call a decades-long battle over a proposed toll road.

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (KABC) -- Many living in San Clemente said they were fed up with what some called a decades-long battle over a proposed toll road and hoped to see a good turnout at a town hall on the matter Wednesday night.

According to the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) website, the South County Traffic Relief Effort sought to alleviate a predicted 66% increase in traffic in south Orange County by 2040.

In collaboration with the California Department of Transportation and the Orange County Transportation Authority, the TCA was looking over 10 ideas for roads to help with congestion, but locals like Raad Ghantous said they've fought against a toll road for the last couple decades because they don't see a need.

"The traffic coming through San Clemente does not and hasn't and even today does not justify this kind of project with this kind of expenditure for the little possible positive that could come out of it," Ghantous said.

Some routes included an extension of the 241 on the south end, with an expansion of the I-5, putting traffic right up against homes and the town's high school.

San Clemente Councilmember Kathy Ward said that would be a waste of $300 million for OCTA projects just completed on the 5.

"They're going to blow through that and waste that tax money that we've already spent, but they're going to widen our freeway by two lanes on each side. If they do that, I will lose businesses and homes," Ward said.

Michelle Shumacher was a founding member of the Facebook group Not My Toll Road. She grew up here and worried about what a road through her city could mean for quality of life.

"San Clemente is a beautiful town. We're a beach town. We're a historic city and you just can't put a major freeway through suburban areas where it was never intended to go," Shumacher said.

The San Clemente City Council hosted a town hall at the city's community center Wednesday, to get public opinion on the matter.

Caltrans scheduled two scoping meetings - one on Nov. 20, at 5:00 p.m. at the Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center located at 24932 Veterans Way in Mission Viejo and another on Dec. 4, at 5:00 p.m. at the Ocean Institute located at 24200 Dana Point Harbor Dr. in Dana Point.