Council supports extension of 241 Toll Road to Ortega.
The question is; why?
At a recent City Council “special meeting” the Council majority voted to support the Transportation Corridor Agency’s (“TCA”) proposal to extend a segment of the 241 toll road to Ortega Hwy.
At the meeting, several residents asked the council how extending the toll road to Ortega, adding potentially thousands more car trips daily to our roads, will benefit the residents of San Juan. The only responses were vague references to alleviating traffic on the I-5 freeway. This makes no sense to us however, considering that this toll road extension appears designed to accommodate the Rancho Mission Viejo Company’s (“the Ranch”) massive planned development on our eastern border. Massive development equals massive traffic.
While the Ranch may have “entitlements” to build up to 14,000 homes, they do not have the approval. In order to get approval, the Ranch needs additional road capacity that will accommodate the enormous amount of traffic that will be generated by their plans to build up to 14,000 homes and 5 million square feet of retail/commercial at Antonio and La Pata. Planning documents indicate that they currently have the green light to build only a relatively small mix of homes and commercial/retail.
Although all San Juan will be impacted by the additional traffic, those most directly impacted will be the neighborhoods along Ortega, San Juan Creek Road and La Novia.
Council member Laura Freese asked TCA reps why San Juan was taking the brunt of the traffic and why the extension wasn’t ending at either Crown Valley or in San Clemente. The TCA stated that a Crown Valley option was “too expensive due to steep topography” and although the TCA said they might consider extending it to San Clemente, that option now appears less likely since Council members Sam Allevato, Larry Kramer and John Taylor voted to support the extension to Ortega.
It should be noted that in the past, both Mission Viejo and San Clemente sued the Ranch to prevent them from building roads that would increase traffic in their cities. Unfortunately, the vote by Council members Allevato, Kramer and Taylor helps to facilitate increased use of our roads by outside development.
At the meeting, several residents expressed concern that San Juan will merely become a freeway on and off-ramp for the Ranch’s new development. It appears that way to us too.
The question boils down to one primary issue; why our council continues to approve spending on and/or support of Ranch-related development and outside infrastructure needs when it will so severely impact our quality of life in SJC. Where is the benefit to our residents?
The next time you’re driving on the Ortega or through downtown, think about how much more traffic 14,000 homes will put on our roads. Allevato, Kramer and Taylor’s votes are helping the Ranch negatively impact our quality of life. We believe it’s time that our council members represent and protect the interests of the residents of San Juan, rather than those of the Ranch.