With this year's local elections looming and congestion on freeways growing, people should be informed of what their candidates do not support. A tunnel passing under the Santa Ana Mountains from the 15 freeway to the 241 Toll Road is a proposed part of a 25-year plan to reduce traffic between the two counties. Some candidates such as Cassie DeYoung, running for supervisor, do not support the proposed tunnel, arguing for the cost and environmental impact it will have.
Research done by a coalition of the Orange County Transportation Authority Riverside County Transportation Commission displayed that a tunnel would be the more cost-effective solution to the traffic and one that California residents would not pay for in taxes. Despite wishes to save money, the current traffic situation requires some sort of action because the 91 highway (the major route from Orange County to Riverside) is crowded with 68,000 more cars than it was originally built to hold.
And if nothing is done by 2030 an additional 300,000 cars would add to that traffic. If the proposed tunnel were to go through beneath the Santa Ana Mountains it would alleviate traffic between the counties and make use of the current Toll Road that travels from South Orange County to Riverside. Some people are afraid that the tunnel will not live up to the predicted results, using the 241 Toll Road as an example, the highway has not diverted nearly enough traffic from the 91 and is practically devoid of traffic, people ask why do we want another highway when we already have the Toll Road.
The tunnel practically guaranteed success because not only will it create a more direct route, releasing in the middle of Orange County rather than the 91 which deposits cars into Northern Orange County, but it will also relieve a large portion of the cross-county traffic.
Supporting the tunnel is candidate Pat Bates, she believes that today's traffic is unacceptable and the says her goal is to make the safest and best solutions for us including the tunnel should the plans be approved.
San Juan Capistrano
In a recent article, "Supervisorial race costly" [News, Oct. 28], Cassie DeYoung once again, expressed her strong opposition to study the 12-mile tunnel concept between Orange and Riverside counties.
I take issue with her assertion that the tunnel does not make sense financially, environmentally or for South Orange County, creating serious traffic problems and that the tunnel will take all the federal transportation funds that may be allocated to Orange County. She also expressed her concern that "dumping" more traffic into south Orange County will create more pollution, and that a national forest will be "trashed."
DeYoung's interpretation of the problems created by the tunnel may indeed be problematic if it can be substantiated. However, no credible data is currently available to support her allegations. I submit that the findings of the proposed study are supposed to identify the feasibility of the tunnel concept and what problems it might create in South Orange County.
Just for the record, may I remind Cassie De Young that during the Measure W campaign in 2002, the Laguna Niguel City Council (which included DeYoung) unanimously endorsed a study of the tunnel concept on the basis that it will facilitate access to the Ontario International Airport argument that remains valid today.