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).
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!
Another hidden impact of OCTA's plan is that the proposed HOT lanes may divert local business revenue and sales tax dollars from our city. Drivers using the HOT lanes won't be able to exit in Costa Mesa. They will be unable to pick-up dinner at our local restaurants, buy gas at our local gas stations, or buy last minute gifts at South Coast Plaza. Where is OCTA's analysis of the financial impact of this proposal on our great city?
OCTA claims that the 405 is heavily congested and that cities need to work together to find a regional solution. However, Costa Mesa has already done its part. The 405 is not congested because of Costa Mesa. We already made freeway improvements less than 10 years ago when the transition was built for the 73. Just compare the number of lanes available on the 405 in Costa Mesa with the number of lanes available farther up the freeway. We added capacity then; why should we be forced to add more capacity now?
Everyone knows that the 405 problems begin up-stream, at the Euclid and Brookhurst Street off ramps, where traffic lanes are taken away. If additional freeway lanes are needed, they should be focused in those areas, not in Costa Mesa.
Why is OCTA spending hundreds of millions of dollars to solve a problem in Costa Mesa that does not exist? Couldn't the funds from the additional cost of Alternative 3 be better used to solve real local transportation concerns, like fixing the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway terminus?
It is time for residents to become aware of this project and understand what Alternative 3 will do to our quality of life if it is approved. Please visit http://www.octa.net/I-405/IPO.aspx for more information about the specific proposals, impacts and costs. The city is hosting an important public forum on this project June 4. We hope to see you there.
Please join Mesa Verde Inc., the Mesa North Community Assn., the Halecrest Community Assn. and a growing list of residents in recommending that our council votes no on OCTA's proposed Alternative 3 for the 405 Freeway.
President, Mesa Verde Inc.
President, Mesa North Community Assn.
Past president, Halecrest Community Assn.
'Fair' well, O.C. Fair