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405 Toll Lanes Could Work, OCTA Chair Says

OCTA Chair Paul Glaab defends a construction proposal that could add a toll lane to the 405 Freeway from the 73 Freeway in Costa Mesa to the 605 Freeway.

Toll lanes ain’t so bad, according to the chairman of the Orange County Transportation Authority board of directors.

In a Monday letter to the leaders of six Orange County cities -- including Seal Beach, Los Alamitos and Fountain Valley -- Paul Glaab, OCTA chairman and mayor of Laguna Niguel, defended a construction proposal that would add toll lanes to the 405 Freeway from the 73 Freeway in Costa Mesa to the 605 Freeway at the county line.

Glaab said the proposal could help OCTA meet their goal of moving “as many vehicles through the lanes as possible during peak commute hours.”

“Express lanes are becoming more and more prevalent as a means to manage congestion in busy corridors,” Glaab said.

In May, Caltrans and the Orange County Transportation Authority presented county residents with three construction alternatives for the 405 Improvement Project along with one “no build option” under which no construction would be done to expand the freeway.

Alternative One would add two lanes and cost about $1.3 billion. Alternative Two would add four lanes and cost about $1.4 billion, and Alternative Three would add four lanes -- two of them toll roads -- and cost about $1.7 billion, according to the OCTA.

According to an OCTA spokesman, the toll lane option would move the highest volume of traffic most efficiently.

Glaab wrote his letter in response to a letter from five OC mayors and one OC mayor pro tem, which supported Alternative Two and opposed Alternative Three.

The signers of the original letter were Fountain Valley Mayor John Collins, Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar, Seal Beach Mayor Michael Levitt, Westminster Mayor Margie Rice, Costa Mesa Mayor Eric Bever and Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Dwyer.

According to Glaab, though the six officials said that the Measure 2 program approved by the voters did not include plans or funds for toll lanes, "under all alternatives, the promise to voters will be delivered.”  

While the city officials wrote that the requirement for a toll road transponder would “burden a large segment of the population,” Glaab said “this is a common practice in Orange County where more than 950,000 units have already been issued by the 91 express lane and the transportation corridor agencies."

“Please rest assured that your comments related to tolling will be properly captured and acknowledged when the staff presents the final recommendation to the board,” Glaab said.

The OCTA board is scheduled to select a preferred alternative for the project Sept. 24.

To read Glaab's full letter, click on the report just below the photograph at the top of this story.

UPDATE: OCTA spokesman Joel Zlotnik said that the board has not yet chosen one of the alternatives and that Glaab was responding to statements in the letter from the six officials.

All of the options "are still being considered," Zlotnik said. "This was a really in response to the issues (mentioned in the original letter)."

Shelly G August 23, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Toll roads are not the answer. Maybe for the select few, but not the majority. It will not ease traffic lets say as would two additional lanes in either direction. Also, we taxpayers paid a half cent tax to pay for the additional lanes on the freeway. We paid it and therefore we should have a say as to what is built. I would have to call it thievery if OCTA and Caltrans agreed to private toll lanes on the freeway I you and I paid for. granted in maybe 30 or so years OCTA will profit. The taxpayers will not. We agreed to use taxpayer funds to build and expand our freeway. Every city where these lanes are to be built do not want toll lanes. We don't want it, period.
Joker Joe August 24, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Cancel the train to no where and use that money.
Schelly Sustarsic August 25, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Everyone should let the Orange County Transit Authority know how they feel about the toll road proposal. OCTA is pushing hard for it. The Board will vote to select its perferred alternative at its September 24th meeting. You may send your comments to the entire board by emailing the Clerk of the Board at: wknowles@octa.net
John B. Greet August 25, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Thanks, Schelly, I will make sure i let them know I think more toll roads and lanes are a *great* idea!
Joker Joe August 27, 2012 at 10:50 PM
It has already been decided. They will tell YOU what they want when ready. That is the way government works. You know that!

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