Sunday, September 14, 2014

I-405 Town Hall Summary

A CHANCE TO HEAR AND BE HEARD
Last Thursday, September 11, 2014, I attended the beginning of the Town Hall conducted by representatives of the coalition of corridor cities opposed to the current scheme by CalTrans to convert additional lanes planned for the I-405 into Toll Roads.  Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer moderated the event, never missing an opportunity to get his face before the public during this campaign season. 
100 PEOPLE, MAYBE, ATTENDED
Seating was available for 100 attendees, but only about 85 people filled those spots by the time I left about 75 minutes after the meeting began.  My best guess at the time was that at least a third of the folks in the room were politicians or staffers from CalTrans, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and various participating cities.  I'm told by those who remained after I departed that more folks filtered in before the meeting ended around 8:00 p.m. and that there might have actually been 100 people in attendance during the two hours of the meeting.
BAIT-AND-SWITCH
It was very clear during the comments by many public officials in attendance that they ARE NOT in favor of the plan and they and several speakers - including our own Beth Refakes - which is basically a "bait-and-switch" scam to convert the widened freeway approved by the voters with Measure M2 into toll lanes - so-called "Lexus Lanes", which would be used by only the most well-to-do among us.
LOTS OF VOCAL POLITICANS
Termed-out Supervisor John Moorlach was among the first of more than a dozen politicians to address this issue, then he left for a prior commitment.  Lame duck Assemblyman Allan Mansoor - who likely will have no place to sit when Michele Steele defeats him for Moorlach's seat in November - also expressed consternation about this scheme.
MOVING TRAFFIC - AND COLLECTING CASH
We also heard from the top PR executive from CalTrans, who told us everything was wonderful with this scheme, and implied that we would see region-wide freeway gridlock if this plan wasn't implemented.  Later, after I left, another CalTrans represented attempted to deflect the allegations that this was all about the cash that would be generated by the toll lanes - not very successfully, I'm told.
MORE COVERAGE...
Voice of OC reporter Nick Gerda was in attendance and wrote two excellent article, HERE and HERE, discussing the meeting and the potential results.  There will be a meeting of the OCTA Regional Planning and Highways Committee on Monday at 10:30 at the OCTA headquarters in Orange.  The following Monday, the 22nd, the full OCTA Board will meet to discuss this plan.


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