The Costa Mesa City Council has taken an official position against a proposed widening of Interstate 405 that would create two toll lanes in each direction between State Route 73 and Interstate 605.
Council members unanimously approved a formal resolution Tuesday that opposes a set of plans, known as “alternative three,” which are now under environmental review. The resolution supports the two other options that don’t involve toll lanes.
“We have been ignored by [the Orange County Transportation Authority] in our opposition to this,” said Councilwoman Wendy Leece before voting to support the measure.
Council leaders and residents had a moment of unity over the issue, in what was largely a tension-filled meeting. The council vote was met with applause from the audience.
The OCTA is considering a four-year project that would result in new toll lanes on the freeway, which runs beside several neighborhoods in the northern part of Costa Mesa.
Residents expressed concern about construction noise and vibration, the project’s cost and adequacy of the proposal’s environmental review. Construction would also involve demolishing a bridge on Fairview Road that the city upgraded for $7 million just three years ago, according to the city.
In an echo of comments by the council and residents, former Costa Mesa mayor Sandy Genis said the proposal is “totally inappropriate and bad for our community.” She said the environmental review only takes a “minimal” look at impacts to Costa Mesa.
Among the issues raised at the meeting was the appropriateness and even legality of using funds raised through Measure M to build a toll lane. When voters approved the half-cent sales tax increase to pay for traffic reduction efforts, they didn’t envision the money being used on toll roads, council members and residents argued.
Mayor Eric Bever said OCTA is “ripping off” taxpayers with the proposal, which he called a “con job.” Councilwoman Wendy Leece and numerous residents who often oppose the council majority supported his comments.
“Stop the presses, breaking news: For first time in recorded history I agree with Mayor Bever,” said Costa Mesa resident Joy Williams.
— NICK GERDA
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