Representatives Levin and Rouda Express Opposition to Toll Road Extension Proposals

April 25, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C.  – Earlier this week, U.S. Representatives Mike Levin (D-CA) and Harley Rouda (D-CA) wrote to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) expressing strong opposition to the Transportation Corridor Agencies’ (TCA) proposal to extends its toll road network in South Orange County. TCA’s proposal contemplates extending SR-241 through San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente, as well as charging for the use of existing lanes that are not currently tolled.

“We firmly believe the TCA has acted beyond the scope of its authority as a toll road operator and should immediately terminate its plans to act outside its jurisdiction,” wrote Representatives Levin and Rouda. “We further urge you to open a complete and public review of the TCA, its current operations, and any future plans the agency may have. Doing so would bring transparency to the process of planning, building, and operating toll roads.”

Representative Levin has been a vocal opponent of TCA’s plans to build new toll roads through South Orange County communities. In March, Representative Levin responded to a report that TCA had potentially overspent and misused public funds by requesting that Governor Gavin Newsom ensure the agency is subject to appropriate ethical and transparency measures.

See below for the full letter:

Laurie Berman

Director

California Department of Transportation

1120 N Street

Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Director Berman,

We write to express our grave concerns about the Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) and its plans to plan new routes throughout our districts. TCA is pursuing these plans in concert and with the support of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) District 12. The range of routes presented by the TCA would negatively impact our constituents while delivering little traffic relief, and we ask that Caltrans reject any further study of these alternatives in the state and federal environmental process.

As you know, the TCA formed in 1986 as a joint powers authority (JPA) by Orange County and several cities following planning that began in the 1970s identifying the need for new highways. Unfortunately, the TCA has acted beyond the scope of its intended purpose and begun planning new routes that pass through San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente that are inconsistent with the statutory definition of SR-241. It is concerning that these proposals would toll recently completed public infrastructure and are based on questionable traffic forecasting techniques.

Our concerns about TCA are not only limited to the agency acting outside of its jurisdiction. The Los Angeles Times recently that reported TCA spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on outsized consulting contracts including one consultant that billed $185 per hour to “read the news.” We believe this, combined with the TCA’s inaccurate road projections, show that the TCA is incapable of effectively managing toll roads, let alone planning and building additional infrastructure.

We firmly believe the TCA has acted beyond the scope of its authority as a toll road operator and should immediately terminate its plans to act outside its jurisdiction. We further urge you to open a complete and public review of the TCA, its current operations, and any future plans the agency may have. Doing so would bring transparency to the process of planning, building, and operating toll roads.

Affordability and transportation are major issues in Orange County and the TCA has exacerbated both issues to the detriment of our constituents. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

MIKE LEVIN

Member of Congress

HARLEY ROUDA

Member of Congress

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