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241 Extension Moving Forward

Like the La Pata Gap Closure project, plans to connect the 241 toll road to I-5 south of San Clemente have been debated for nearly two decades.  But unlike La Pata, the 241 has been mired in a firestorm of controversy.  A coalition of six state and federal agencies originally proposed a route that would connect the 241 to the 5 freeway south of San Clemente. The route would have traversed through the San Mateo watershed, bisected San Onofre State Park and connected with the 5 near Trestles beach. To put it mildly, the plan generated fierce opposition from government agencies and environmental groups.  The proposed route was denied in 2008 by the California Coastal Commission and this denial was upheld by the Commerce Department.  Commerce did leave the door cracked, allowing for alternative routes to be proposed in the future.  Seizing on that opening, the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency approved a four mile extension of the Toll Road, from its current end point at Oso Parkway to a new temporary connector in the vicinity of Ortega Highway and the future Cow Camp Road.  (A permanent interchange will be constructed when the Ranch Plan roadway infrastructure is in place. )

When completed, this extension — called the Tesoro Extension — will complete the first four miles of the remaining Toll Road route, leaving 12 miles between the Toll Road and the 5 freeway in San Clemente.  The engineering and environmental analysis is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2012, meaning construction could begin shortly thereafter and the extension could be done by 2014.  Construction costs are estimated to be approximately $200 million, with Barclays Capital providing the financing.  Barclays financed much of the original Toll Road, and was involved in the May 2011 restructuring of the TCA bonds.

Proposed 241 Extension, photo: Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency

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