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New Environmental Study Will Be Done on Tollway

Times Urban Affairs Writer

The agency overseeing the planning for the Eastern tollway has agreed to conduct new noise and air-quality studies in the Peters Canyon area in order to settle a homeowners’ lawsuit challenging the project.

The suit, filed in July by the Tustin Hills Homeowners Coalition, alleges that the environmental impact report approved by the County Board of Supervisors last year is inadequate because it does not detail homeowners’ exposure to the expected increases in noise and air pollution once the tollway opens to traffic, in the mid to late 1990s.

The Foothill-Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency, which is supervising the tollway project, and the homeowners group have accepted the terms of the settlement, but county officials are still processing the paper work and have not signed it, according to Donna Stubbs, spokeswoman for the corridor agency. The Board of Supervisors as well as the corridor agency was named a defendant in the suit.

Under the terms of the settlement, the county and corridor agency admit no wrongdoing but they do agree to pay for new noise and air-quality studies intended to compare existing noise- and air- pollution levels with those projected for after the tollway’s opening, using worst-case traffic scenarios.

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Equipment to monitor noise and air pollution will be placed at several spots along the tollway route.

The settlement also calls for studies to assess how the tollway will affect state and regional efforts to improve air quality.

The Eastern tollway will connect the Riverside Freeway near the Orange County-Riverside County border with the Santa Ana Freeway at Jamboree Boulevard and at the interchange with the Laguna Freeway.

Homeowner association leaders could not be reached for comment Monday.

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