Commentary: Cities must stand strong against toll lanes

Why is the Orange County Transportation Authority pushing so madly for toll roads on our freeways?

Why does OCTA believe toll roads should be paid for with monies duly voted for specific purposes that do not include toll roads?

Why is OCTA so strongly motivated to turn freeways into toll roads that it would ignore the very people who pay for everything, the Orange County taxpayers?

From whence does OCTA's zeal for this major shift in social policy emanate?

More to the point: When did our public agencies become our masters and our elected officials their toadies?

Why does it seem impossible for OCTA to simply do the right thing?

Thorough analysis of Alternative 2 for the 405 Freeway, which adds two general purpose lanes, both north and south from the 73 to the 605, has demonstrated that the project, which has received near-unanimous citizen support, can be completed for the same amount as what the agency has budgeted for its single-lane version of the project.

This development should come as welcome news. However, not everyone is smiling, because it does not fit the plan.

OCTA has also attempted to "incentivize" the six 405 corridor cities, each of which vehemently opposes tolls on the 405, by proposing to throw an unnamed quantity of money around in the 405 corridor area. This cynical offer has been repeatedly refused by all six cities. The ethical leaders of the corridor cities refuse to sell out the county taxpayers for their own gain.

The question we must ask is whether it is OK to use taxes paid specifically for freeway-congestion relief to further subsidize those who choose and can afford plug-in hybrids and electric cars, which allow solo drivers to use the carpool lanes. Is it acceptable public policy to use money paid by all to benefit only the few: plug-in hybrid owners who get a free ride, and the rich who will gladly pay for the privilege of bypassing the gridlocked masses who are not so fortunate?

Is it OK for the majority of us who have paid extra taxes for years to receive little to no benefit?

Members of t

he OCTA Board of Directors may yet redeem themselves by adopting 405 Alternative 2 and adding free lanes for all to use. We can only hope that board members will find their way Monday to the only ethical conclusion.

ERIC BEVER is the former mayor of Costa Mesa who helped organize the "405 Corridor Cities."

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