In April 2015, the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA) retained Sharon Browning and Associates to conduct a community ascertainment study to gather input and gain insight on how best to collaborate to address regional mobility challenges in South Orange County. The scope of the study was designed to develop an understanding of the community's definitions of the problem; priorities to be considered in proposing solutions, and preferences for process, planning and decision making.
In-person confidential interviews were conducted with 45 residents and active community leaders, excluding elected officials, in cities and unincorporated areas in South Orange County. Topics of discussion included I-5 mobility challenges, describing the problem, exploring solutions including a need or no need for a SR-241/I-5 connections, who should lead planning efforts and how planning should be led and exploring the need for consensus.
Below is a brief summary and analysis of the findings that will assist in developing a plan for achieving a consensus.
- The study analyzed the contents of each interview to identify areas of high agreement and areas of lack of agreement, in order for the F/ETCA to focus on areas of agreement in future regional traffic solution planning, particularly around relieving traffic on the I-5 corridor.
- The environment of the study included discussion around existing I-5 construction, the Avenida La Pata extension, and the local culture, political perspective, values and practices of each community.
- The study found high agreement in the community that excessive traffic congestion exists along the I-5, north and south from Oso Parkway to Cristianitos Road on weekends, during peak usage times and when accidents occur. The study confirmed the community is greatly concerned about this problem because of its negative impacts on quality of life. The study revealed the community is looking for increased engagement and choices at the local level.
- The study revealed that the community may not expect 100 percent consensus, rather an open, collaborative problem-solving process led by elected officials with community input.
A full report of the community ascertainment study may be viewed in full here.
The 241 Toll Road: A Traffic Solution for South Orange County
Since 1981, State Route 241 has been on Orange County's Master Plan of Arterial Highways to plan for future growth in South Orange County, alleviate traffic congestion on Interstate 5 (I-5) and provide traffic redundancy in the area in case of emergency.
In 2008 the California Coastal Commission denied a key permit for this project and since then TCA has been reaching out to stakeholders to determine if a consensus can be reached on a viable alternative to address the mobility challenge that South Orange County faces.
Traffic on I-5 in South Orange County is congested now -- especially on weekends -- and is anticipated to get worse. And because there is currently no major alternative route to I-5, whenever traffic is severely congested due to weekend or holiday traffic or if there is an incident or construction on I-5, traffic spills onto the local streets of San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano and completely clogs the local roadways of these cities as drivers try to find another way around the gridlock.
Twenty-four million people live in Southern California today. That number will be more than 30 million by 2050, resulting in a 60 percent increase in traffic on I-5 in South Orange County and making I-5 in this area similar to the clogged 91 freeway.
TCA's primary goals of enhancing mobility and providing congestion-free transportation never overshadow its steadfast commitment to environmental conservation, restoration and appreciation. TCA's extensive environmental programs developed with construction of the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads represent the most progressive approaches in habitat conservation, revegetation and management; scientific study and planning; endangered species protection; and greenhouse gas reduction. Click here to learn more about TCA's environmental programs and restoration sites.
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