Hearing date set for proposed toll road in California state park

| 7/10/2008

The U.S. Department of Commerce has set the time and date for a public hearing concerning a proposed toll road in Orange County, CA, that would bisect state parkland in the name of congestion relief for Interstate 5.

The hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., July 25, in the Donald Bren Events Center, 100 Bren Events Center at the University of California in Irvine.

Transportation Corridor Agencies, a nonprofit government agency, requested the hearing to appeal a February decision by the California Coastal Commission to deny the agency’s application to build a 16-mile extension of state Route 241 north of San Diego.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez has the say over whether to overturn the Coastal Commission’s denial of the application.

Conducting the hearing will be officials from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the Commerce Department, according to a notice published this week in the Federal Register.

People wishing to speak at the hearing may sign up on-site starting at 10 a.m. the day of the hearing. Written comments are being accepted from July 21 through Aug. 4. Comments may be sent via e-mail to gcos.comment@noaa.gov or mailed to the following address:

            Thomas Street
            NOAA Office of the General Counsel for Ocean Services
            1305 East-West Highway, Room 6111
            Silver Spring, MD 20910

General inquiries about the comment process should be directed to the NOAA office at (301) 713-2967.

The tolled extension of Route 241, if the Commerce Department overturns the Coastal Commission’s ruling, would be known as the Foothill-South. It would cut through the San Onofre State Beach, an area known for surf and wildlife.

The Coastal Commission hearing that led to the denial of the builders’ application drew a crowd of 3,500 people.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger supports the roadway, which has been on California’s radar as far back as 1981.

Click here for more information about the proposal.

– By David Tanner, staff writer