Sales-tax money can pay the tab; don’t build more toll lanes.
By JOHN MOORLACH / O.C. Board of Supervisors chairman
You can’t spell freeway without the word free. Yet, with government constantly searching for new revenue streams, toll roads have become an appealing mechanism for building this critical infrastructure. Orange County taxpayers, however, are balking at this approach for expanding the I-405, or San Diego Freeway. Rightfully so, as toll revenues are not required to build the one additional lane that was recently promised in a countywide ballot measure.
In 2006, Orange County voters approved Renewed Measure M – M2 – to fund transportation improvements. This 30-year program began in 2011 and will raise a minimum of $5 billion for freeway construction projects from a portion of the sales tax paid within the county.
As many of you know, the Orange County Transportation Authority has proposed three options to improve travel conditions by increasing capacity on I-405 between Euclid Street and I-605. Alternative 1 adds one general-purpose lane on each side of the freeway. Alternative 2 adds two general-purpose lanes to each side. Alternative 3, which has been recommended by OCTA staff, widens I-405 by two lanes on both sides; there will be one new general-purpose lane on both sides, and two lanes will be revenue generators (one new toll lane, and the current free carpool lane will be converted into a toll lane).