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O.C. tollway a mistake, Lockyer says

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Times Staff Writer

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, saying he was “deeply disappointed” by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s support for a toll road extension through San Onofre State Beach, called on the state Coastal Commission to reject the project.

The toll road shouldn’t be built, Lockyer said Thursday, because “it would cut through the heart” of California’s sixth-most-popular state park.

Last year, Lockyer, as state attorney general, filed a lawsuit to block the road, saying it would destroy environmental resources and disturb sacred religious and ceremonial sites for Native Americans.

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The 16-mile Foothill South tollway, with an estimated price of $875 million, is to be the final link in the network of toll roads operated by the Transportation Corridor Agencies. Planners say it would accommodate growth in southern Orange County and relieve congestion on the 5 Freeway, but critics have long contended that the road would degrade the beach and its famous surf breaks.

On Tuesday, the governor said the road was essential and could be built to enhance use of the coast and protect coastal resources.

He also noted TCA’s offer of $100 million to reduce the effects of the road on the park and provide improvements to San Onofre, San Clemente State Beach and Crystal Cove State Park.

Lockyer said TCA could not mitigate the harmful effects of building the road simply by “writing a check.”

“I strongly believed then that the TCA’s proposal effectively would eliminate a state park from California’s world-class system. I still believe that today,” he said.

The proposed roadway will be considered for approval next month at a Coastal Commission meeting in San Diego.

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david.reyes@latimes.com

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