A toll road that the Transportation Corridor Agency is considering merging onto Interstate 5 near Avenida Pico would fly over a former Carrows Restaurant that borders San Clemente High School, San Clemente’s mayor said Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Mayor Kathy Ward, who represents the city on the TCA’s board of directors, said she was given a tour of potential south Orange County toll road routes that are part of a TCA mobility study. She said she was shocked to see how close an envisioned bridge onto I-5 would pass the high school.
Ward said she had thought, based on a decade-old TCA environmental study, that a potential 241 alignment would hug a hillside below St. Andrews Methodist Church and descend to I-5 at the Pico interchange.
“They will not connect to the Pico interchange, because they will harm the interchange,” Ward said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “They want to connect further south. That means it will connect much closer to the high school than even we anticipated. I was surprised at how close it goes to the football field. It would fly over Carrows, and there would be a post or a pole somewhere in the back in the Carrows/McDonald’s area, and it would cut very close to that open area next to the freeway, right next to the field.”
Mike Chesney, chief strategy officer for the TCA, said Wednesday, Sept. 6, that the environmental process will need to vet any alignments that might be proposed as a result of the mobility study. But at this point he said it appears the potential alignment shown to Mayor Ward could be designed without physical impacts to the high school.
Jeff Corless, TCA spokesman, said the agency “appreciates her support and leadership in helping to disseminate the facts about the traffic relief effort, to educate the public.”
San Clemente’s City Council has declared its opposition to any toll road slicing through the city. The city’s website states opposition to any toll road that would divide a community. The city and a homeowner association are suing the TCA, challenging a protective zone that was created in a lawsuit settlement the TCA reached in November with environmental groups. The city says the avoidance zone, designed to protect the area around Trestles Beach, cornered the TCA into trying to push the 241 through one established community or another in south Orange County to connect to I-5.
San Juan Capistrano is opposed to any extension of the 241 Toll Road through its borders. Councilman Brian…