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City ready to fight toll road plan

Costa Mesa council considers whether to pursue a lawsuit.

October 07, 2013|By Bradley Zint

The Costa Mesa City Council met Monday to discuss whether to pursue a lawsuit to prevent toll roads on the 405 Freeway, a proposal that was met with stiff opposition from area cities last year.

Though there was no public report from the closed-session meeting, officials said the council weighed its options and will hear more from the city attorney's office in the coming days.

Last year, representatives from Costa Mesa and five other cities — Fountain Valley, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, Westminster and Huntington Beach — opposed a $1.7-billion plan that would have added a toll lane and general-purpose lane in each direction between the 605 Freeway outside Rossmoor and the 73 Freeway in Costa Mesa.

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The contested plan, officially known as Alternative 3, would have also converted the existing carpool lanes in each direction to a toll route.

Mayor Jim Righeimer on Monday said Costa Mesa remains opposed to the toll roads.

Officials said they feared that the California Department of Transportation, because of some recently approved federal legislation affecting the minimum traveling speeds within carpool lanes, will push through a 405 toll road plan despite the Orange County Transportation Authority's October 2012 approval of only one new lane — and no toll roads — between Fountain Valley and Rossmoor.

One theory is that Caltrans could potentially override the OCTA's decision, officials said. No use of eminent domain affecting businesses or residences in Costa Mesa is expected under any of the freeway plans, which would take years to come to fruition.

Under the toll road option, however, Costa Mesa may also have to again tear down and rebuild its Fairview Road overpass, which was redone a few years ago.

Last year, Costa Mesa preferred the $1.3-billion Alternative 2, which would have added two general-purpose lanes in both directions. In June 2012, the council also examined its legal options to oppose Alternative 3.

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