Southern California Toll Road Through Sacred Site Hits Roadblock
By Jeesoo Park | Online Only | Feb. 20, 2008
A spacious, 3,000-acre state park that runs along the Pacific Ocean, San Diego's San Onofre State Beach is a popular vacation spot for the 2.4 million who visit each year. It's also the sacred site of Panhe, an ancient village of the native Acjachemen people who still reside in the area. Soon, however, San Onofre may also include a toll road.
Recently, there was a significant victory for those in support of preserving San Onofre. On Feb. 6, 2008, the California Coastal Commission voted 8-2 against the toll road proposal on the grounds that it would violate the coastal zone as well as the coastal act. However, because San Onofre is a state beach and resides on land owned by the Marine Corps under a long-term lease, the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) has already filed for an appeal to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Whether that appeal will be pursued has yet to be decided.
For the past seven years, TCA, along with a collaborative team of other agencies, have planned a six-lane toll road.
"The proposed road would be part of a 57-mile toll-road system in southern California that has been on the map since the early 80s," says Jennifer Seaton, TCA spokeswoman. Traffic on the well-traveled road that is the only link between Los Angeles and San Diego is expected to increase 60 percent by 2025. "There needs to be an alternative route," she says. "Just this year, wildfires caused Interstate 5 to be closed, and people couldn't evacuate. This toll road would not only provide emergency evacuation access when accidents occur, but also a road for the 40,000 homes that have already been granted permits to be built all along the area."
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