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Overdevelopment Blamed for County Traffic Problems

Times Staff Writer

Sixty-five percent of south county residents believe the county’s traffic problems are a direct result of too much development, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Orange County Transportation Commission.

The survey, which was discussed Wednesday night at a public forum in Irvine by the Transportation Commission, was conducted as part of a continuing attempt to analyze the county’s growing traffic problems.

Rapid development was the only factor identified by more than 50% of those surveyed as a major cause of traffic congestion.

Inadequate Roads Mentioned

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Thirty-seven percent of south county residents surveyed said inadequate roads and freeways are a major cause of congestion; only 31% of those living in other parts of the county agreed with that appraisal.

Twenty percent of those polled countywide said a lack of car-pooling was a leading cause of traffic congestion, and another 8% said inadequate public transportation was a major factor. Respondents were allowed to give more than one answer when asked their opinion on what caused the county’s traffic problems.

The telephone survey of 400 Orange County residents was conducted by Research Network Ltd. of Laguna Hills. The sampling was conducted last Oct. 21-30.

Irvine Mayor Larry Agran, who participated in Wednesday night’s forum, said he was not surprised at the poll’s results.

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“I think a key element in our (traffic) problem is the rate of development. It has gone too fast,” he said.

Agran said the population in the past five years has increased by 200,000 people in south county, which encompasses all of the unincorporated and incorporated municipalities from Irvine to San Clemente.

“In Irvine, alone, we have had a population increase of 50,000 in the last eight years,” Agran said.

The two major causes of traffic congestion mentioned most often in the survey were directly related, he said, explaining that overstressed roads and freeways have resulted from rapid growth and development in south county.

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Called a Warning

“We’re too slow in improving roads because of the rapid development,” he said.

Agran, a slow-growth proponent, said the results of the poll should be a warning to public officials.

“It is important that the Board of Supervisors and the city councils exercise greater restraint in development,” he said. “That is not to say we should shut things down, but we should slow them down while improvements can be met.”

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Almost half (48%) of the Orange County residents surveyed said, however, that they thought the county’s traffic was not as bad as that of Los Angeles County.

Fifty-nine percent of the respondents also indicated that they believe enough revenues are available to initiate improvements to ease traffic congestion without hurting other county programs. The other 41% said voter approval for a tax increase was necessary to help solve traffic problems.

Full- or part-time employees living in south county who were polled said they averaged 25.3 minutes commuting to work. Those residents living in other sections of the county said it only took them an average 20.9 minutes to get to work.


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