Plan for Tollway Driven by Necessity

* Your editorial “Isn’t There a Better Way to Plan a Road?” (Sept. 5) regarding long-ago decisions about the need, route and size of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor poses several questions that deserve an answer.

The answer is yes.

I was involved in some of the first discussions on the proposed corridor, and when the approvals, costs and obstacles were first presented, and the years-long time line first calculated, I feared the corridor would never become a reality. But it is about to happen.

The need? That was not pulled out of the air. County of Orange projections were clear that southern Orange County’s population and employment base would grow, and that the single San Diego Freeway, aided by Pacific Coast Highway, would never be able to handle the resulting traffic. In the ensuing 15 years, the South County has developed, and the current recession, car-pool lanes and upgrading of the (El Toro) “Y” notwithstanding, traffic relief is needed now and will be needed much more by the time the corridor is completed by the turn of the century.


The route? Routes can always be second-guessed, but a route somewhere between the San Diego Freeway and Pacific Coast Highway was needed. The current route was painfully worked out over time.

The size? The corridor should probably be wider, but it was narrowed by environmental concerns. Too wide? Hardly.

Would it be approved at all if the approval process began today? Yes, but the process would be even more costly. Design concepts I have seen will not damage the San Joaquin Hills but rather open that scenic area to the view of countless motorists--people will pay the toll to drive the corridor on a Sunday as a joy ride.



Corona del Mar