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405 Toll Lanes Could Work, OCTA Chair Says

OCTA Chair Paul Glaab defends a construction proposal that could add a toll lane to the 405 Freeway from the 73 Freeway in Costa Mesa to the 605 Freeway.

Toll lanes ain’t so bad, according to the chairman of the Orange County Transportation Authority board of directors.

In a Monday letter to the leaders of six Orange County cities -- including Seal Beach, Los Alamitos and Fountain Valley -- Paul Glaab, OCTA chairman and mayor of Laguna Niguel, defended a construction proposal that would add toll lanes to the 405 Freeway from the 73 Freeway in Costa Mesa to the 605 Freeway at the county line.

Glaab said the proposal could help OCTA meet their goal of moving “as many vehicles through the lanes as possible during peak commute hours.”

“Express lanes are becoming more and more prevalent as a means to manage congestion in busy corridors,” Glaab said.

In May, Caltrans and the Orange County Transportation Authority presented county residents with three construction alternatives for the 405 Improvement Project along with one “no build option” under which no construction would be done to expand the freeway.

Alternative One would add two lanes and cost about $1.3 billion. Alternative Two would add four lanes and cost about $1.4 billion, and Alternative Three would add four lanes -- two of them toll roads -- and cost about $1.7 billion, according to the OCTA.

According to an OCTA spokesman, the toll lane option would move the highest volume of traffic most efficiently.

Glaab wrote his letter in response to a letter from five OC mayors and one OC mayor pro tem, which supported Alternative Two and opposed Alternative Three.

The signers of the original letter were Fountain Valley Mayor John Collins, Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar, Seal Beach Mayor Michael Levitt, Westminster Mayor Margie Rice, Costa Mesa Mayor Eric Bever and Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Dwyer.

According to Glaab, though the six officials said that the Measure 2 program approved by the voters did not include plans or funds for toll lanes, "under all alternatives, the promise to voters will be delivered.”  

While the city officials wrote that the requirement for a toll road transponder would “burden a large segment of the population,” Glaab said “this is a common practice in Orange County where more than 950,000 units have already been issued by the 91 express lane and the transportation corridor agencies."

“Please rest assured that your comments related to tolling will be properly captured and acknowledged when the staff presents the final recommendation to the board,” Glaab said.

The OCTA board is scheduled to select a preferred alternative for the project Sept. 24.

To read Glaab's full letter, click on the report just below the photograph at the top of this story.

UPDATE: OCTA spokesman Joel Zlotnik said that the board has not yet chosen one of the alternatives and that Glaab was responding to statements in the letter from the six officials.

All of the options "are still being considered," Zlotnik said. "This was a really in response to the issues (mentioned in the original letter)."

John B. Greet August 22, 2012 at 11:14 PM
As a current toll road subscriber I would be quite content to see the construction of toll roads and lanes expanded, and not just through OC but throughout LA as well.
enea ostrich August 23, 2012 at 03:56 PM
This ain't over yet--so true. If there is a split between constituents on this issue, then you know for sure that the final decision on Sept 24th is going to literally be a heart wrenching one. What I have said is that I hope that the board members don't make this decision based on popular thought, but to make it individually because the issue is so controversial. Not all people love toll roads, except for the ones that love no traffic. What they don't realize is that traffic was created for a reason and a toll road is not the answer to clearing traffic. If traffic leaves one area--where do you suppose it will go to? It will go to where the majority of the drivers are, duh!!!!!!
Marc Loopesko August 23, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Dear OCTA - we DON'T WANT toll lanes, just regular lanes added to the very outdated I405
Joker Joe August 23, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Toll lanes ain’t so bad, according to the chairman of the Orange County Transportation Authority board of directors. This guy's salary must be very good and he obviously has a job. You start toll rides in our area and it will only cause more toll roads. N.Y. has MANY toll roads and the fees never go down, only up. Not sure if they are private or state owned but the fees are VERY high.
Nia Hartman August 23, 2012 at 06:32 PM
OK everyone, what road is the worst in the LA and Orange County area? The 91. It has toll lanes. The agreement was that no new general lanes could be added to the 91 for a set number of years. Thus assuring profit for the toll operators. But, traffic increased more than expected and now even with the toll lanes it gets backed up regularly more than any other road in the area. These toll projects are long term agreements but on one knows the long term usage and needs. It ties the hands of OUR officials who provide OUR tax payer funded public works for OUR public needs. Why should WE pay the price in lane closures and delays? Those paying the tolls will pay back construction and operating costs for their lanes but they won't pay the non-monetary costs that the rest of us will bear. They will use our lanes to access their profit lanes. They will close off some of our lanes when they want to construct or maintain the toll lanes. They will increase traffic for all the people who access the freeways in between where the toll roads start and stop. If the toll road goes past your house you won't be able to get on it because the entrances and exits will be fewer than the regular carpool lanes. I am in favor of the carpool lanes that promote greener transport and give emergency vehicles better access. We all lost Laguna natural habitat and gained traffic on the 405 and 5 for the under-used 73 toll road. We also lost the opportunity to use that corrodor for public good.
Joker Joe August 23, 2012 at 08:05 PM
I agree.
Nia Hartman August 23, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Sorry about my typos "on one" instead of "no one", and "corridor". Anyway, I also wanted to say that toll road fees don't just have to pay for the toll lanes. They have to pay for the extra real-estate on either side, barriers, toll takers or expensive equipment and monitoring. This whole extra layer of, oh lets call it, Bureaucracy, doesn't come cheap. It is not like we are just switching costs from taxpayers to fee-payers. Toll roads create a whole other system that needs litigating, contracting, yearly reviewing, and space for political profiteering.
Carmelcat August 23, 2012 at 09:20 PM
I agree too.... no toll roads. In fact, why isnt there a rapid transit line running down the center connecting all major city/suburban links, with jitneys into town centers, medical centers, etc? The road engineers seem to think only roads, not community.
Johnny Utah August 23, 2012 at 09:25 PM
I drive the 405 to south coast area all the time and let me tell you...it's not even that bad. Try going from point A to point B in LA...a lot worse. Just add a few more lanes and quick trying to get rich -toll roads! It's bad enough I have to get a new transponder for the 110.
Shelly G August 23, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Toll roads are not the answer. Maybe for the select few, but not the majority. It will not ease traffic lets say as would two additional lanes in either direction. Also, we taxpayers paid a half cent tax to pay for the additional lanes on the freeway. We paid it and therefore we should have a say as to what is built. I would have to call it thievery if OCTA and Caltrans agreed to private toll lanes on the freeway I you and I paid for. granted in maybe 30 or so years OCTA will profit. The taxpayers will not. We agreed to use taxpayer funds to build and expand our freeway. Every city where these lanes are to be built do not want toll lanes. We don't want it, period.
Joker Joe August 24, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Cancel the train to no where and use that money.
Schelly Sustarsic August 25, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Everyone should let the Orange County Transit Authority know how they feel about the toll road proposal. OCTA is pushing hard for it. The Board will vote to select its perferred alternative at its September 24th meeting. You may send your comments to the entire board by emailing the Clerk of the Board at: wknowles@octa.net
John B. Greet August 25, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Thanks, Schelly, I will make sure i let them know I think more toll roads and lanes are a *great* idea!
Joker Joe August 27, 2012 at 10:50 PM
It has already been decided. They will tell YOU what they want when ready. That is the way government works. You know that!

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