With the deadline looming for the community to offer input on the proposed San Diego (405) Freeway expansion by adding lanes and possibly a toll road, leaders in both Seal Beach and Los Alamitos are planning to voice objections to the proposal.
Seal Beach residents will gather tonight to discuss ways to keep the county from expanding the freeway by widening it into the portions of the College Park East neighborhood. In addition to the encroachment of the freeway, residents and city officials worry that the proposed project could increase smog and traffic in the area.
“For College Park West as well as Rossmoor, there is the issue of air quality,” said Seal Beach City Councilman Gary Miller.
If the Orange County Transportation Authority adds one or more lanes to expand the freeway between the 73 toll road and the San Gabriel (605) Freeway, but additional lanes aren’t added in Los Angeles County’s portion of the freeway, it could create a bottleneck of backed up cars along the county line, said Miller.
“They are making no changes in Long Beach,” he added. “So, it’s just going to be a parking lot.”
If the county adds a toll road and/or additional general purpose or carpool lanes, commuters getting on or off the freeway at Seal Beach Boulevard, will have to get on and off the toll road at Goldenwest Street, said Miller. Furthermore, if the toll road is operated like the Fast Lanes along the 91 Freeway, tolls during peak traffic times could exceed $10 per trip, added Miller.
City officials in Los Alamitos also said they are concerned about the proposed toll road option. Earlier this month, the City Council planned to consider a letter voicing the city’s objections to the toll road at the upcoming July Council meeting.
Earlier this month, more than 200 people gathered at a community meeting in College Park East to discuss ways to fight the project, which would push the freeway closer to their homes.
The proposed freeway improvements include adding a lane in each direction, adding two lanes in each direction, adding a general-purpose lane and a toll lane in each direction that would be managed together with the existing carpool lane, or a no-build alternative. The expansion would put the freeway soundwall farther into Almond Avenue, which flanks the College Park East neighborhood.
The 405 is one of the busiest freeways anywhere, with sections handling upward of 300,000 vehicles per day. Caltrans and the OCTA estimate traffic volume will increase about 35 percent by 2040.
Tonight’s meeting to discuss the city’s options is at 7 p.m. at the North Seal Beach Community Center at 3333 St. Cloud Drive.
The projects Environmental Impact Report is available for review at Seal Beach City Hall, the Mary Wilson Library, the Los Alamitos/Rossmoor Library, or on the OCTA website at www.octa.net/405improvement. The presentation and comment forms are available on the city of Seal Beach website as well at www.sealbeachca.gov.
Members of the public can submit comments on the environmental report to Smita Deshpande, Caltrans District 12, at 2201 Dupont Drive, Suite 200, Irvine, 92612, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.