…in the aftermath of the rejection of toll lanes for the I-405, it is good fiscal stewardship to take a closer look at a modified Alternative 2, making sure that the opportunity cost of failing to consider the merits of doubling the yield of new traffic capacity for an extremely modest cost increase is fully understood [by the incoming nine new OCTA Board members].
The Register also covers the issue on Monday’s OCTA Board Agenda here: Wider I-405 expansion may get another look.
Unfortunately, this discussion will still occur while Alternative 3 TOLL LANE disciple Will Kempton remains OCTA CEO for another five weeks (three Board meetings) until his resignation thankfully takes effect and Darrell Johnson takes over. Hopefully short-timer, Assistant Master of the Universe Kempton will stay out of the discussion as his strategy to make already paid-for pavement into OCTA revenue generators, on top of all their other revenue sources, FAILED last year and likely contributed to his departure and loss of a $376k+/pa compensation package. The OCTA presentation package on the freeway widening is here.
To be expected of Moorlach, his logic is on-target:
It was my impression that during the consideration of the alternatives, OCTA staff continually framed the debate as a limited choice of Alternative 3 versus Alternative 1, with little meaningful consideration of a modified Alternative 2. When Alternative 3 was defeated, I believe many Board members were led to believe that there was no “real” option other than Alternative 1, despite the sentiment of many that “we could do better.” We may now have the opportunity to ensure that we consider a modified Alternative 2 with the same level of attention, scrutiny, and analysis as we allowed for Alternative 3. Hopefully, this proposed agenda item will give us that opportunity before allowing Alternative 1 to move too far down the processing path with Caltrans.
Also representing the 2nd Supervisorial District on the OCTA Board (which should be elected) where the widening solely occurs is Seal Beach Mayor Gary Miller, a new Board appointee, and the always tiresome Matt Harper, a Huntington Beach Councilman and PR guy for Orange County’s trash agency. Unlike his colleague, Don Hansen who’s no longer on the OCTA Board as his political career wanes, Harper did not support the toll lanes. Moorlach should be getting Miller’s and Harper’s support, or there’ll be some ‘splainin’ to do.
Alternative 2 will cost only eight percent more than the single lane Alternative 1 that was passed last year — that’s $100 million, or a $1.4 vs. $1.3 billion difference — a bargain in today’s infrastructure market and certainly a better value than the $600 million OCTA has wasted in connecting the 406, 605 and 22 carpool lanes together between Long Beach and Westminster.
In fact, as CPA Moorlach would know, eliminating the car pool lanes all together where the widening would occur would produce 50% MORE LANES under Alternative 2, a monumental increase in capacity for all to use, not just soccer moms and Priuses. Carpool lanes are failed social engineering and testing their absence in the 2nd District would be a great experiment and lesson for the rest of the State and Caltrans in proving how little advantage these things actually have. No one to our knowledge, in the public or private sector, has ever conclusively proven or financially justified the value of carpool lanes, even as a bogus contributors to greenhouse gas myth.
Departing CEO Kempton and his OCTA staff sycophants pushed hard for Alternative 3 (as Moorlach suggests) and the use of part of the FREEway for toll collection. Many observers believed this was a thinly disguised attempt to offset the significant losses being incurred by the failed SR73 paid pavement experiment. — the past December story via the union-funded Voice of OC reported:
In 2011, $2.1 billion in debt for the San Joaquin Hills toll road were restructured, adding six years to the time they will be paid off and the route becomes a state-owned freeway. Now they will be paid off in 2042, nine years later than their original deadline.
The generally empty and extremely expensive-to-use 73 was taken over by the also unelected Transportation Corridor Agency when it failed as a private venture.
Moorlach’s right that Alternative 2 is the BEST CHOICE for widening the 405. Elimination of all its carpool lanes is, admittedly, something of a pipe dream that no elected official likely has the backbone to suggest even though, if we were wrong, the lanes could easily be restored and excluded from use by the folks who paid for them. Revisiting Alternative 2 is good strategy to ensure it’s reconsidered, and Mr. Moorlach needs the new OCTA Board members to do the right thing and not support the inadequate Alternative 1.
We need the pavement.