Commentary: Bravo to the community for speaking out against tolls

This month Costa Mesa — along with six neighboring cities — was successful in thwarting a proposal to put four toll lanes on the 405 Freeway from Seal Beach to Costa Mesa.

Instead, on Dec. 9, the Orange County Transportation Authority board of directors voted to build one general traffic lane in each direction at a cost of $1.3 billion and put off any talk of toll lanes until 2020. This is a major victory for Costa Mesa residents and businesses.

The decision followed the banding together of mayors from Westminster, Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa to strongly oppose the toll-lane proposal. Their reasons include what they believe would be the misuse of voter-approved Measure M2 revenues.

The Costa Mesa City Council members, as well as council members from the other corridor cities, most notably Westminster Councilwoman Diana Carey, also offered strong opposition to the 405 toll plans.

In Costa Mesa, there were other reasons to oppose the toll lanes, including the fact that the recently completed Fairview Road bridge, which cost $7 million and took 18 months to build, would have to be torn down and then rebuilt to accommodate the four extra lanes.

It just didn't make sense.

I want to thank everyone who helped stop the toll lanes on the 405 Freeway through Costa Mesa. First, the residents made their voices heard — in e-mails and at City Council and various OCTA meetings. This protest was impressive and helped sway the OCTA board.

Costa Mesa City Council members also offered unanimous opposition to the toll lanes at their meetings and in front of the OCTA board. This helped significantly. I'd also like to single out former Mayor Eric Bever, who took this issue as his personal cause last year and helped rally the other corridor cities to speak in a unified voice against the toll lanes.

We came together as a community and had a positive influence on the future of our transportation system in Costa Mesa.

ERNESTO MUNOZ is the public services director for Costa Mesa.

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