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Mailbag: Do not widen freeways in Costa Mesa

May 10, 2012

Next month, the Costa Mesa City Council will take a formal position regarding the proposed controversial expansion of the San Diego (405) Freeway through Costa Mesa. It is critical for the residents to become educated and speak out about what impact this project will have on our city.

For those not familiar with the plan, California Department of Transportation and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) are proposing to widen the 405 from the Corona del Mar (73) Freeway, to the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway. They are looking at three proposals. The first two seek to add traffic lanes north of Euclid Street in Fountain Valley and do not impact our city directly.

However, OCTA's proposed Alternative 3 directly impacts Costa Mesa. This $1.7-billion proposal will add an additional general purpose freeway lane in each direction at Euclid and create an additional paid High Occupancy Travel (HOT) lane through Costa Mesa (similar to the one on the Riverside (91) Freeway through Corona).

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Many fear that because Alternative 3 is the only proposal which generates revenue through the toll lanes, OCTA will select this option. You see, OCTA does not have enough money to build the projects and needs to find a way to pay for the construction.

Alternative 3 is a disaster for Costa Mesa. It will bring the 405, and its noise, pollution and trash up to 40 feet closer to residences and businesses. Scientific studies consistently find that those exposed to prolonged freeway pollution have increased health problems for life. What does this say to our residents about how we value their quality of life?

In addition, to make room for the paid travel lanes, OCTA will have to completely destroy and re-build both the Fairview Road and Harbor Boulevard overpasses. Recall, the Fairview overpass was just reconstructed three years ago at a cost of $7 million and major headache to Costa Mesa residents. The proposed HOT lanes will also require the construction of another elevated bridge at the 73 Freeway interchange. We do not need more elevated freeways in Costa Mesa!

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