Monday, June 25, 2012

Clock Is Ticking on I-405 Comments


GET CRACKING WITH THOSE COMMENTS
Although it seems like you've heard plenty about the I-405 Improvement Project, the clock is ticking for comments from the public to be submitted to the appropriate authority on this issue.  So, right at the top of this post I'm going to give you the proper addresses to which you may mail or email your comments.  The public comment portion of this project has been extended to July 17, 2012, which is right around the corner. 

Your written comments may be sent by mail to:
Smita Deshpande
Caltrans District 12
2201 Dupont Drive, Suite 200
Irvine, CA, 92612
       OR
email your comments to: 405.dedcomments.parsons@parsons.com


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Some have suggested providing copies to the local media - the Daily Pilot and the Orange County Register.  Personally, I don't recommend deluging them with all the comments and letters.  However, I DO suggest submitting relevant letters to the editor to each of those organizations.


MEETINGS
The Orange County Transportation Authority Regional Planning and Highways Committee will meet to discuss this project at its meeting on August 6th at OCTA Headquarters at 600 South Main Street, Orange, CA.  The full Board will make a decision of a "preferred" option at it's meeting on August 13th.  Here's information you should know about the venue if you plan to attend.  Plus, you may wish to carpool because it may cost you $11.25 for parking all day if the meeting stretches on.  As the meeting dates draw near you'll be able to find the actual agendas HERE. (Click on map to enlarge)



To summarize what's happening on this project..

OCTA PROJECT INFO
Traffic on the I-405 through Orange County is a major problem.  You can read all about it at the OCTA site HERE.  The decision has been made, based on public outcry, to NOT widen the right-of-way to enhance traffic flow.  Instead, four alternatives have been suggested.  The first one is a "no build" option, which means we will soon strangle on our own exhaust on the 405.

ALTERNATIVES #1 AND #2 CAUSE LESS CHAOS
The first viable choice - Alternative #1 - adds one general purpose lane each way between Euclid and the 605 interchange.

The second is Alternative #2, which adds two general purpose lanes through the same corridor.

These choices DO NOT require the removal and replacement of the Fairview Street bridge over the 405, although they DO require replacement of bridges further upstream on the project.


ALTERNATIVE #3 IS NOT SATISFACTORY FOR COSTA MESA
Alternative #3 is the one the OCTA is pushing because it adds one general purpose lane AND one High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lane to the existing carpool lane - both would be 'managed" together and WOULD require the demolishing and replacement of the Fairview Bridge.  In addition, this choice  - due to limited access to the lanes - creates major difficulties for Costa Mesa residents and visitors trying to reach our city through the major portals at Harbor Blvd., Fairview, Bristol and the SR55 Freeway.  OCTA prefers this choice because it produces income via the toll lanes, although they won't be pinned down as to the actual cost of driving in those lanes.  They use the fascinating term "congestion pricing", but won't give us numbers.  Basically, those who presently use the carpool lanes are out of luck unless they're willing to pay through the nose (transponder, that is).

ALTERNATIVE #3

OTHER VOICES...
Much has been written about this project on this site and elsewhere.  The Daily Pilot and the Orange County Register have done a good job of providing coverage.  Alternative media, like the Orange Juice Blog, has also done an excellent job of giving different views.  You can read some of the commentaries that have appeared on that site recently HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

OFFICIAL COMMUNICATIONS
You can also read Mayor Eric Bever's recent angry commentary against Alternative #3 in the Daily Pilot HERE and a letter also appearing in the Daily Pilot a month ago by representatives of three homeowner's associations in the north part of town, HERE.


ADDITIONAL NEGATIVE IMPACTS
Additionally, there are some VERY significant impacts on a couple dozen homes that abut the freeway right-of-way.  Some, our neighbors on Nevada Street for example, may end up with a 20+ foot high sound wall just a few feet from their homes.  The City is trying to work with OCTA and CalTrans on possible mitigation measures for them.
NOW'S THE TIME....
Alternative #3 - the only issue I've seen in a dozen years of paying attention that has galvanized much of the community and the City Council in a common goal - will NOT provide ANY benefits to Costa Mesa and will cause significant inconvenience and turmoil for a very large part of our populace.  The folks making the decisions need to hear from us all about this.  The City Council has already sent a resolution to them opposing Alternative #3.  Now it's time for us to do our part and send those messages immediately.  Recommend that Alternative #2 is the proper choice.

 ALTERNATIVE #2

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