Hearing postponed on California toll road through state park beach

| 7/14/2008

U.S. Commerce Department officials have postponed and may be forced to cancel a public hearing concerning a proposed toll road in Orange County, CA, that would bisect state parkland at San Onofre State Beach.

The hearing was scheduled for July 25 at the University of California-Irvine, but Commerce Department officials say it has been postponed because of capacity issues. The Bren Events Center holds 4,750 people, which is a far cry from the estimated 10,000 people who have expressed interest to attend, officials said.

Officials are looking for a new venue but budget is also a concern, Commerce Department General Counsel Jane Luxton stated in a letter to the proposed builder, Transportation Corridor Agencies.

“We are currently assessing options, but if these issues cannot be resolved in the near future, the July 25 hearing may need to be canceled,” Luxton stated in the letter dated Friday, July 11.

She said changing the date and venue would force a delay because of public notification laws.

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.

Approximately 3,500 people attended a February hearing on the proposal, officials said.

The proposed toll road, known as the Foothills-South extension of Route 241, would bisect the San Onofre State Beach, an area known for surfing and wildlife.

Nearby Interstate 5 carries an average of 10,000 trucks per day and peaks at 35,000 trucks per day according to the Federal Highway Administration.

– By David Tanner, staff writer