Tollway safe, says wildlife service

The proposed toll road through San Onofre State Beach would not jeopardize sensitive wildlife species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday.

Nine species were reviewed, including endangered and threatened species, said Jane Hendron, a wildlife service spokeswoman.

In some cases, the project footprint was outside the species area, she said. But in others, such as the endangered Pacific pocket mouse, the toll road agency is taking measures to manage the area for the benefit of the species, Hendron said.

The opinion, which clears a hurdle for the Transportation Corridor Agencies, was "exceptional news," said Lance MacLean, chairman of the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency.

At an estimated cost of $875 million, the proposed Foothill South tollway would be the final link in Orange County's network of toll roads. It would run 16 miles from Oso Parkway in Rancho Santa Margarita to Interstate 5 at Basilone Road, south of San Clemente.


-- David Reyes

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