Platform : Toll Roads: ‘They Are Fairest Because Only Users Pay’

Compiled for The Times by James Blair

Orange County leads the state in toll roads, with three publicly developed and two privately developed such roads planned or under construction. But not everyone likes the idea. The San Joaquin Hills tollway, which would run from Newport Beach to San Juan Capistrano, has been the subject of litigation. Some people concerned with the projects offer their views:

ROBERT POOLE, President, Reason Foundation, Los Angeles

Toll roads have come to California and Orange County is the leading edge. There are no current proposals for toll roads in Los Angeles County. Most of the routes that make sense already have freeways on them. The question for this county is whether we should convert some of our freeway capacity to toll roads. A lot of people would be willing to pay for premium access to one or two lanes that went at regular highway speeds, say 55 m.p.h., during rush hour.

MARK CHAMBERLAIN, Photgrapher, Laguna Beach


The (San Joaquin Hills tollway) is going to be an environmental disaster. It’s going through some very delicate environment, violating some of the last relatively fresh open territory--the only vernal, spring-fed lakes in Orange County are immediately adjacent to it.

The idea that the toll road is being sold to the general public as a traffic solution--all you have to look at where it’s going to go to realize that it’s not a solution at all. It’s a means of accessing additional land for building--to open territory for development which will further exacerbate the environmental problem. We are now rivaling Los Angeles in poor quality of air once you get away from the ocean. If the idea was to solve traffic then all they would have to do would be to take care to the bottlenecks that already exist; and we have to recognize that some form of mass transit is going to be necessary for all of us.

CAROLYN WOOD, 26-year resident of Laguna Beach

I don’t have any problem with toll roads if they fulfill what they’re supposed to--an alternative that would get you from Point A to Point B quicker and safer.


However, the San Joaquin Hills toll road, was planned a long time ago. The idea was to take people from San Juan Capistrano to, say, the 405 in Costa Mesa and bypass the El Toro “Y,” which has for many years been a bottleneck. In the meantime the El Toro “Y” is going to be completed as a 23-lane interchange a year before the toll road’s going to be done.

Since the employment centers have moved and the massive development in the San Joaquin hills is no longer going to be built, will the toll road really be an advantage?

MICHAEL STOCKSTILL, Director of public affairs, Transportation Corridor Agencies, Santa Ana

The TCA is a public agency that will operate three public toll roads in Orange County. It’s made up of the county and 12 cities.


The current toll roads have been in the planning since 1986. The principal benefit, obviously, is traffic relief and better air quality because the roads will reduce congestion.

What the public is getting are roads that otherwise wouldn’t be built for decades because of the continuing lack of funds at the state and federal levels. There are toll-road projects throughout the United States that are being considered largely based on what’s happening in California.

GERALD PFEFFER, Managing director, California Private Transportation Co.

CPTC is a limited partnership which holds a franchise awarded by the state to finance, design, build and operate a 10-mile, four-lane toll-road improvement to the existing Route 91, the Riverside Freeway.


There are no free roads. Since World War II we’ve relied heavily on gasoline taxes to pay for our road system; but increasingly gasoline taxes aren’t sufficient either to pay for new facilities or, in some cases, to maintain the roads we’ve got. Tolls are, by their nature, the fairest method of financing needed roads because only the users have to pay.