Friday, June 15, 2012

Final I-405 Improvement Project Meeting

Thursday night more than 200 people filled the venue at the Fountain Valley Senior Recreation Center to hear from the team from the OCTA, CalTrans and Parsons Corporation give their pitch for the proposed I-405 Freeway Improvement Project.  While most of the folks in the audience last night were from Fountain Valley and Westminster, there were a few of us from Costa Mesa and other communities impacted by this plan.  Costa Mesa Transportation Services Manager Raja Sethuraman was on site last night and is seen below discussing one of the plans with former Costa Mesa employee Carol Proctor, currently a Fountain Valley Planning Commissioner.  Former Costa Mesa councilman Jay Humphrey was also present and asked some important questions.
I saw many of the same players from the organizations responsible and their act has gotten a little more polished since the first one ten days ago.  Unfortunately, they didn't have many more answers this time around.

Kevin Haboian from Parsons was, once again, the moderator of the event.  He did a good job with his presentation and this time they allotted much more time for the Question and Answer period.  It stretched well over an hour and most questions were handled well, although I suspect most of those who asked them came away not fully satisfied.

Among the questions asked, again, was why Alternative #2 couldn't be morphed into a plan to use one of the two lanes added as a second carpool lane instead of a general purpose lane.  It seems like a doable option if CalTrans is willing to put the squeeze on the carpool lanes as they traverse under the Fairview Street bridge.  Once again, the answer left most uneasy, since it seems like a much less onerous solution than the dreaded Alternative #3.

ALT. #2
There was a little murmur in the room last night wondering if Costa Mesa would support Alternative #3 if a way could be found to implement it without demolishing and replacing the Fairview Street bridge.  I thought that was interesting because the construction chaos involved in destroying and replacing that new bridge seemed to be the main complaint about that option.  That, and the fact that Jim Righeimer couldn't use the HOT lanes to get to John Wayne Airport.

I find myself wondering where the Segerstrom family is on this issue?  They, along with the good folks at IKEA and the SoCo site, stand to potentially lose some significant business as folks in the HOT lanes just blast right past Costa Mesa heading to points north or south.  It seems to me like the City may lose some significant sales tax dollars from this scheme.

Former Fountain Valley councilman Gus Ayer posed a tough question.  He wanted to know when the public was going to be able to vote on this new scheme, since that was one of the provisions of the original Measure M bill.  He came away without the answer he was seeking - there would be no new vote.


OCTA CEO Will Kempton tried to field a few questions - including the one posed by Ayer above.  He tried to answer the "where's the money to do this?" question by telling us that there is around $600 million in Measure M funds presently available and that more will be accumulated as this project moves through the process.  He also said that Bonds would be used for the difference and that there would be revenue from Alternative #3 that would help pay the costs.  The more I heard the more it became clear that the revenue stream to be generated by #3 sure seems to be the primary driving force behind the OCTA strong push for that choice.
Kempton did say, however, that they will consider extending the time for public comments for a couple weeks, which will give anyone interested in making a statement to do so.  As was the case at the previous meeting, a court reporter was available to take a dictated statement and forms were also available for folks to write their comments on the spot.  Of course, we can also leave email comments at the link provided on the OCTA website for this project, HERE.  Those addresses are at the end of this post again.


There was significant conversation about the proposed sound walls and the OCTA sound consultant tried to assuage concerns.  I'm not sure he succeeded.  And, nobody addressed the fact that most of the current landscaping along the 405 will be sacrificed to the widening project.  Decorative sound walls will be used instead.

Of major concern for Fountain Valley is the plan for them to lose three or four thriving businesses as part of this plan and the sales tax dollars that would go with them.  That didn't sit well with anyone from that city based on their comments during and after the meeting.  I hadn't much thought about it, but maybe we could lure those businesses to Costa Mesa if they are ousted in Fountain Valley.  Maybe somewhere along Harbor Blvd...

Again, for those interested, you can view to informative videos on this project HERE.

The chart above shows the milestones for this project.  The OCTA invited comments - at the meeting as dictated to a court reporter - and by mail to:
Smita Deshpande
Branch Chief - Caltrans District 12
"Attn: 405 DEIR/DEIS Comment Period"
2201 Dupont Drive
Suite 200, Irvine, CA 92612

Or by email to Christina Byrne, Manager of Community Outreach, or reach her by telephone at 714-560-5717.  So, pick up the telephone, sit down at your computer or send a letter letting the folks at the OCTA how you feel.  Now is the time...


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Anonymous asophistinCM said...

A major policy issue for our state representatives. Why the silence from Assemblyman Mansoor? What is Bob Rush's position? It seems like the incumbent, (and the candidate) should be doing all they can to demonstrate how they specifically plan to preserve the district's tax base, protect the businesses and the cities that send the desperately needed taxes to Sacramento rather than allowing a state agency to pay for work by creating a plan that isn't paid for and then trying to pay for it with a "user tax" that hurts cities due to bypassing local businesses and penalizes those who can't afford to pay the user fee to travel in HOT lanes. What's your position Mansoor and Rush?

6/15/2012 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Halecrest Resident said...

Tuesday night is the vote in Costa Mesa. Hope to see everyone there to oppose this project.

6/15/2012 12:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Walk, Bike, Skate said...

Exactly how does this make Costa Mesa more Walkable, Bikeable and (because we are CM) Skateable???? This is just an excuse to have developers shovel dirt around for a gravy gov't contract causing horrible traffic and less access to CM. CM should not EVER, under any circumstances make it easier to drive more cars through our city without stopping to buy. It is bad enough that we have an ever burgeoning traffic problem, let's not make matters worse by hurting local businesses and home values. Let's get back to the plan to make CM more Walkable, bikeable and skateable for our residents and stop catering to passers through.

6/16/2012 07:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Vern said...

Yo comrade. Guess what? We have all the money we need for Alternative 1, and we're very close to Alternative 2. On top of that $600 million that fellow admitted to, there's another $700 saved from other projects due to the recession.

Ergo, the only alternative we need bonds for is Alternative 3 with the toll lanes, and the only thing we need Toll Lanes for is to help us qualify for those bonds.

Do you dig the circularity here? I'll try to get it across clearer in my next OJ story. Ta!

6/16/2012 12:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Vern said...

With your permission...

6/16/2012 04:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Halecrest Resident said...

Where's South Coast Plaza on this??

6/18/2012 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

A question I asked above... you'd think that every merchant along that corridor that will be very difficult to reach from the freeway with Alt. #3 would be raising a stink. It's not possible that they don't know about it. Maybe someone from that group will speak tomorrow night.

6/18/2012 04:35:00 PM  

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