Community Editorial: an Awful Spring for the Toll Road Agency

Springtime, the time of new growth. Winter’s chill is past, as we embrace the glorious optimism that is spring.

Unless you’re TCA.

Orange County’s Transportation Corridor Agency, purveyors of OC toll roads, has suffered a bruising 2014 spring opener.

1st up: TCA’s new CEO bailed (not unexpectedly). Having signed checks without board approval, he went SMTWF — spend more time with family.

Strike 2: TCA buried its super slick, artfully designed, uber-expensive toll booths. Toll roads without toll booths, really?

Unsuspecting cross-county commuters sans transponders will receive tolls-by-mail, no doubt with hefty interest payments compounded monthly when the bill goes missing in the household’s bill pile.

Strike 3: Sayonara, Trestles toll road plan. The Route 241 toll extension through pristine habitat will never meet Interstate 5 at Trestles surf beach. TCA officially dumped its bogus road plan,  its environmental wall too high to get over, under or around. Hasta la vista, baby.

Three strikes and you’re out, TCA. This spring as gas prices race past $4.00, what’s it going to be, gas up the SUV or $12 bucks for the toll road?

Will 2014 be TCA’s ultimate summer of discontent?

If so, what’s next to go at TCA?

Its board of directors?

Its Irvine headquarters?

Its staff?

Heck, three techies on computers can run the operation, and Caltrans already handles TCA’s roads, so why not fold the limping, dehydrating toll-beast into the Orange County Transportation Authority. Let the folks who handle OC transportation steer OC’s toll road trajectory away from the cliff. Call it spring cleaning.

Then can we please kick-start OC’s mass transit rail conversation. OC’s wasted 30 years on TCA’s failed toll road schlimazel when light rail here, there and everywhere should have been OC’s conversation, because as the smart money knows, car commuting makes no cents. It’s walk it, bike it or train-it = smart.

And while were at it, let’s turn OC toll roads free.

Fifty-one miles of instant freeways await the bold and brave OC politician who dares voice the obvious: “OC toll roads must go free. They’re way past due.”

Imagine, toll roads we’ve all paid for through our highway taxes we could actually “all” drive on. What a concept.

Fact: TCA is the cork in OC’s transportation bottle. It’s time to uncork the bottle and let this county flow.

Jerry Collamer, a San Clemente-based activist and cartoonist, serves on the Voice of OC Community Editorial Board.