As the deadline looms to comment on plans to widen the 405 Freeway, Los Alamitos joined a chorus of cities opposing a proposal to add toll lanes to the road.
Today is the last day to sound off on the proposed freeway expansion, including possible toll lanes from the 605 Freeway to Highway 73.
On Monday night, Los Alamitos became the latest Orange County community to oppose the toll road option and voice concerns about the project's environmental impact on surrounding cities such as Seal Beach and Rossmoor. The council voted unanimously to send a letter to the Orange County Transportation Authority supporting the addition of just a single lane to the freeway, opposing the toll road, and emphasizing solidarity with Seal Beach residents, who came out adamantly against proposals to add two regular lanes or toll lanes to the freeway.
“I’ll be honest with you – I am not in favor at all of toll roads in any way,” said Councilman Ken Stephens. “I almost think it’s an exclusion of people rather than in inclusion…it just doesn’t seem right to me.”
As was the case at packed community meetings in Seal Beach and Rossmoor, Los Alamitos residents also expressed opposition to the toll road.
“I would like to see the city do everything (it) can to stop the toll road,” Los Alamitos resident Richard Murphy told the City Council.
Residents are sick of freeway construction, and Los Alamitos should support neighboring Seal Beach in opposing the more drastic expansion alternative, added Stephens.
“Our citizens are suffering from construction fatigue, for anyone who has to use the freeway in the morning each way, it’s annoying,” said Stephens. “Anything we can do to support the other cities, I think we should.”
Seal Beach residents and leaders have come out in opposition to the toll road and any expansion plans that would push the freeway soundwall deeper into the College Park East neighborhood. Officials in several Orange County cities including Seal Beach and Westminster have expressed concerns that the proposed toll lanes would bypass their business districts because drivers wouldn’t be able to exit the toll road in their community.
Another major concern facing commuters in North Orange County is that a widened freeway in Orange County would create a bottleneck at the county line because Los Angeles officials have no plans to widen their portion of the 405.
“Common sense tells you when you have eight lanes going into four, you are going to have a problem,” said City Councilwoman Gerri Graham-Mejia
It’s well known that both the 405 and the Golden State (5) Freeway back up at the county line, said Mayor Troy Edgar. That’s because Los Angeles County has long prioritized spending on rail and public transit over freeways, he said.
At community meetings earlier this month, residents in Rossmoor and Seal Beach expressed concerns about the pollution caused by idling engines stuck in traffic at the county line.
The OCTA will accept comments on the project’s Draft Environmental Report through today. Authorities will be required to respond to all concerns raised by the proposal that are officially submitted by today’s deadline.
The Three Alternatives for the 405
- Add two lanes: one in each direction from Euclid Street to the 605.
- Add four lanes: one in each direction from Euclid to the 605, plus a southbound lane from the Seal Beach Boulevard on-ramp to Brookhurst Street and a northbound lane from Brookhurst to the 22 Freeway/7th street interchange.
- Add two general-purpose lanes: one in each direction from Euclid to the 605, and add two toll lanes: one in each direction from the 73 to the 605.
Under the toll lane plan, drivers with one passenger or going solo would be charged to use the lane, while drivers with two or more passengers could use the lane for free or at a discounted rate.
If a construction alternative is selected, OCTA staff expects work to begin in 2014 and take about four and a half years.
According to OCTA, the 405 is one of the most congested freeways in the county, carrying more than 300,000 vehicle trips in some sections each day.
By 2040, traffic volumes are expected to increase significantly and the population is expected to grow 11 percent.
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