Toll Road Endorsement Plans Revealed by Regional Chamber of Commerce

The controversial last 16 miles of the 241 toll road will be completed—if the South Orange County Regional Chamber of Commerce has its way.

A new team of business people, stakeholders and others seeking to complete the last 16 miles of the 241 toll road was announced Wednesday morning during the annual changing of the board at the South Orange County Regional Chamber of Commerce meeting in Mission Viejo.

The SOC Economic Coalition is a new advocate for business interests in South County, said Jim Leach, Cox Cable's vice president and the initiative's new chairman.

The coalition will advocate job creation and hold business-to-business mixers where its members will advocate political positions favorable to businesses. Its members will appear at public meetings as advocates for business interests, too.

"Where there are NIMBYs, where there are people who don't recognize the importance of business, that's where we'll be," Leach said.

The coalition will also support the completion of the toll road, he said.

"We're going to be the ones selling t-shirts," SOC Chairman John Whitman said. He said 241 extension proponents will outnumber opponents five to one as he discussed raising money for the new coalition.

The completion of the last 16 miles of the 241 toll road has drawn crowds of thousands, for and against, at mass meetings of the California Coastal Commission at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. In Feb. 2008, the CCC rejected the extension in an 8-2 vote.

Right now the 241 stops at Oso Parkway in Rancho Santa Margarita. The extension would add 16 miles of highway connecting with I-5 south of San Clemente.

But the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency has released a study Wednesday they say proves the need for the extension.

The extension would generate over $3 billion and add over 17,000 jobs to the state, including about 13,600 in Orange County, according to economic consultant Beacon Economics in a report commissioned by the TCA.

Here's how those numbers break down:


Orange County

The Rest of







$2.33 billion

$718 million

$3.05 billion


$862 million

$231 million

$1.09 billion

State/local taxes

$121.5 million

$38.1 million

$159.5 million

Many of those jobs and much of the spending would go toward the actual construction of the extension, said TCA spokeswoman Lisa Telles.

Grocers, retailers and other businesses that rely on trucking would also benefit, Telles said.

The Surfrider Foundation has been the largest organized opponent to the extension. The environmental group says an extension would hurt water quality and waves at the popular Trestles surf spot, as well as promote development of a pristine stretch of Southern California.

Peter Schelden (Editor) September 15, 2011 at 02:43 AM
Folks, thank you for your comments. Please remember to show courtesy to one another, even when you disagree.
Squonk September 15, 2011 at 02:57 AM
Ask a construction worker who is unemployed if he'd like a good-paying job for three-to-four years to build this roadway. That won't sound short-term to him or her. Plus the road will allow customers to businesses in RSM, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, etc. BTW, Sunshine, the Marines said yes... so long as the route stayed in their northernmost portion of the base, which is leased to the state. Yeah, that "legendary" state park isn't owned by the state. It's owned by the Marines. And the lease is up in 2021. Tick tock.
SJCNative September 15, 2011 at 04:02 AM
Squonk, please, a construction worker would only work a short time as that section applies to their skills. A backhoe operator would not be working 3-4 years as a backhoe is not needed for that long of a duration. Please.
Shripathi Kamath September 15, 2011 at 04:48 AM
If 16 miles of toll road construction can create 17,541 jobs, and 2-3 billion in economic activity, why is Congress still hum-hawing over Obama's proposal for construction projects nationwide? There should be a stampede to pass such a bill. OK, they all may not be equally lucrative, but still...
Bill S September 15, 2011 at 02:40 PM
So now we have a regional chamber of commerce making an announcement the same week that the San Onofre Foundation makes a big announcement. TCA, Jim Leach, spend your marketing dollars, the economy needs help. I still bet that this 16 mile stretch of road doesn't move forward in the next 20 years. Far too many people are against this road for many many many reasons. Regarding jobs, fix the 5 in LA first. what a mess they have in LA, alot worse than we have. I drove to Beverly Hills and it took me 1.5 hours to get there and 2 hours to get back. the only normal traffic that I could tolerate was in South OC.
Duane Cave September 15, 2011 at 03:23 PM
We need to complete the 241, this project is not paid for by your tax dollars, it is paid for by the people who use it. For those that can not afford to pay the tolls, they also benefit, when you take the drivers off the freeway and place them on the toll road it decreases traffic for those on the freeway. Poll after poll have shown that the silent majority supports the completion of the toll road, we need to do what is right and build it now!
Lindsey Hanson September 15, 2011 at 03:44 PM
NO it just makes another excuses to build more which then over crowds the roads even more. It is a small few that can afford the toll road. The elite fly down the 73 in virtual solitude while the shrinking middle class slug along the 5 in the same traffic as before the toll road just more congestion. The 1 6 mile extension will be NO different. Anyone who thinks so is wearing blinders. And btw my PIG comment was not directed at someone as if calling them a pig. It was an analogy. Squeal says the pig. More! We need more!
Mr Salty September 15, 2011 at 03:47 PM
What a bunch of hooey. Any person who thinks this road would have ANY effect on our traffic problems, probably also believes in the tooth fairy and thinks we are in Afghanistan because of terrorists. Poll after poll have shown just how IGNORANT the average American is today!
James Schumaker September 15, 2011 at 04:07 PM
The toll road extension is inevitable, and we might as well face it. Unfortunately, San Clemente is no longer an isolated village on the sea -- it is a bottleneck on one of the most heavily traveled routes in California, and ways will have to be found to relieve the pressure as traffic is increasing all the time. Widening the 5 between Pico and Estrella would be helpful, but only to a point, as San Clemente itself is growing rapidly. The only realistic solution is to build additional roads to relieve the traffic pressure, including 241 and the La Pata extension.
Kevin September 15, 2011 at 04:43 PM
We are not going to make everyone happy either way we go. My 2 cents is we build it and at least get people working for the short term .
Joe September 15, 2011 at 05:00 PM
If the TCA hadn't held up real road improvements through their Non-compete agreements, all those people could already be at work.
Joe September 15, 2011 at 05:01 PM
San Clemente is not growing rapidly. It's built out.
Shripathi Kamath September 15, 2011 at 05:02 PM
:-) So *you* want to pick which side to make unhappy.
James Schumaker September 15, 2011 at 06:34 PM
In 2000, San Clemente's population was 49,936. In 2010 it was 63,522. I call that pretty fast growth. Also, San Clemente is not built out. There is still plenty of empty space at Marblehead, which is right at the current I-5 choke point. Moreover, the back country inland from San Clemente has not yet been developed, and thousands of homes could eventually be built there.
Lindsey Hanson September 15, 2011 at 07:23 PM
Lindsey Hanson September 15, 2011 at 08:06 PM
James I see you are a supporter of over building and filling every bit of open space. Also the growth you mention from 2000 - 2010 is called Talega.
April Josephson September 15, 2011 at 08:59 PM
Lindsey, please explain how the same traffic as before exists when the elite are on the toll road? I personally find the 73 too expensive, but living adjacent to the 241 has made my life much easier. I don't have money to spare, but by using the 241 toll road, I do save time and money, and keep additional traffic off of the freeways. This road needs to happen and does benefit the middle class. It will make a difference.
Lindsey Hanson September 15, 2011 at 09:24 PM
Oh April... The elite represent a very small minority. Therefore the impact on alleviating traffic is minimal at best. "I don't have money to spare, but by using the 241 toll road, I do save time and money, and keep additional traffic off of the freeways." This makes a clear distinction with your logic. We have different goals in life. You live adjecent to the freeway so you can get to and from work quicker. You spend your scarce funds on your commute. I guess when all you care about is work and getting there and long to spend your last dime on your commute drving a toll road through our natural paradise IE "trestles" sounds like a dream come true. Bah says the sheep that mindlessly follow. Bah say the cattle who go where they are told. Squeal say the piggies and all cry for more. Don't forget... it's a metaphor.
Peter Schelden (Editor) September 15, 2011 at 09:35 PM
Even metaphors can be insulting, Lindsey. Please stick to the issues, all of you, and avoid lowering yourselves to insults.
Shripathi Kamath September 15, 2011 at 09:39 PM
Lindsey, James is simply stating facts. Why do you accuse him of something else? Talega *is* in San Clemente, right? His is a fair point. 25% growth in a decade, and more being planned. So do we need roads or not? Forget the 241. If you have another 30,000-40,000 people added in a decade in that area, are more roads needed? What he is saying is that such growth is inevitable, nothing about whether he wants it, is happy with it., etc.
Bill S September 15, 2011 at 10:33 PM
I drive the 5 every day and I don't think we need a toll road. even with 14,000 more home being added, I don't think we need the toll road. We have much better traffic than LA and San Diego. Why can't we be happy with what we have. Also, if we continue to build more roads, we won't instill a desire for public transportation, work where you live, and so on... Roads are a quick answer when we need long term thoughts... roads are not the proper long term thoughts unless your the developer. Also, what about the alternative routes. why does the 241 not go into Ortega and the 5 in San Juan? Why does the 241 need to end at Trestles, San Onofre or San Clemente? Maybe it should end at La Pata and Ortega near the dump and new high school.
James Schumaker September 16, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Hello, Lindsay. Actually, I do not support additional growth. My family has lived in San Clemente for over 40 years, and every year, it seems like the traffic just gets worse, especially on Route 5. It is my belief that San Clemente has been overbuilt due to speculative investments in new housing, and that current infrastructure, especially roads, is inadequate to support San Clemente's existing population. The Marblehead bankruptcy debacle, brought to us by SunCal and Lehmann Brothers, is just the most obvious example of this. Personally, I think growth is inevitable, but it should proceed at a more even pace, and be better planned. In the meantime, we need to catch up by building new roads, utilities and other services.
Mr Salty September 16, 2011 at 04:00 PM
It's proven time and again building roads does not reduce traffic. If you think otherwise you are WRONG. http://www.infrastructurist.com/2011/06/06/why-building-roads-creates-traffic/ http://www.fastcompany.com/1756746/building-more-roads-causes-traffic-study http://technorati.com/lifestyle/article/building-new-roads-doesnt-decrease-traffic/ http://www.ptua.org.au/myths/congestion.shtml
Mr Salty September 16, 2011 at 04:47 PM
I'd be very interested in finding out just exactly which businesses belong to this "Regional Chamber of Commerce". I want to know what I should BOYCOTT!
Mr Salty September 16, 2011 at 05:04 PM
A quick search of their site shows almost all member businesses are large corporate outfits. Figures. The only business member in SC is the Holiday Inn, again Corporate. However The City of San Clemente" and "City of San Clemente Mayor & City Council" are also listed as members. Does this mean they presume to endorse this boondoggle in our name? DOWN WITH CORPORATE ANYTHING. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!
Bill S September 16, 2011 at 05:42 PM
me too, can someone please write an article on the businesses that belong to the "regional chamber of commerce"? Cox cable is one and I am overdue from firing them... $140 cable bill is ridiculous.
April Josephson September 16, 2011 at 07:44 PM
Lindsey, I am not a mindless follower, and have always been concerned with our environment. I find your comments illogical. I don't know where you live, but I have done my research and my financial calculations. Using the 241 toll road saves me in auto expenses. Not being in stop and go traffic has prolonged my brake life, using this shortcut saves miles driven, saves gas, and prevents pollution among other benefits. I have a better quality of life thanks to the 241 and peace of mind every time I am able to get from point A to point B without dealing with the traffic nightmare that many live through daily. You don't seem to have any facts to support your assertion that the "elite" using the 73 don't have any impact on the traffic on the 5. When I drive down the 133 in Laguna Canyon on weekday evenings, which I do often, I see most of the traffic leaving the 133 to get onto the 73 south. Traffic is often backed up in the canyon to that point. When you have numbers to support your statements, I will consider believing you. Further, this article is about extending the 241. What does any statement about the 73 have to do with it? I believe there is a way to complete the 241 that will not have the level of negative environmental impact that people like you claim there is. Until I am shown facts that prove otherwise beyond a shadow of a doubt, I will continue to support its completion.
Joe September 16, 2011 at 08:42 PM
"I believe there is a way to complete the 241 that will not have the level of negative environmental impact" If this were the case, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Move on to other projects so that people can actually get to work, rather than dwelling on this disaster.
Squonk September 20, 2011 at 04:18 PM
"down with corporate anything" LOL! Yes, California needs to drive more business out of the state. Afterall, we're only at 12% unemployment. I bet we can get to 25% by next year if we work hard enough!
Don Patterson March 07, 2012 at 10:49 PM
On top of that, as the revenues declined, they increased the "Inactivity Fees" that you have to pay if you have a transponder but *don't* use the tollroads. I would be totally suspicious of projections on use by anyone that stands to gain by building a tollroad. I'm trying to get a petition going to fight the $2.00 a month inactivity fee: http://ow.ly/9owhs I also made a graph of projected revenue showing when the fee was increased that you can see here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/220197/FightTheFee/2009FeeIncrease.png


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