Schwarzenegger supports toll road through beach in state park

| 1/18/2008

In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has come out in favor of a controversial toll road that would run through a popular state park in Orange County.

Previously neutral on the issue, the governor has now sent a letter to the Coastal Commission to say the proposed Foothill-South 241 Toll Road, a 16-mile, six-lane highway that would bisect part of San Onofre State Beach, could be built in such a way that will protect the environment.

The Coastal Commission, environmental groups, parks associations, surfers and regional governments, including the neighboring San Diego City Council, are opposed to the toll road through the state park.

The Coastal Commission is scheduled to meet Feb. 6 to vote on the proposal. The commission vote is one of several steps required before the planners, Transportation Corridor Agencies, can move forward with the project.

Critics say the proposed tollway would cut through a pristine area of natural beauty and will damage a beach that is famous for its breaking waves.

But the proposed $875 million Foothills 241 Toll Road remains one of the few alternatives to congestion on Interstate 5.

Former state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who is now the state treasurer, filed a lawsuit in 2007 against Transportation Corridor Agencies to block the proposal. The lawsuit is still pending.

– By David Tanner, staff writer

Staff Writer Reed Black contributed to this report.