WESTMINSTER (CBSLA.com) — Orange County residents got a chance to voice their opinion Tuesday night on a proposal to introduce toll lanes along the I-405 Freeway.
Many residents argued that they already pay taxes on Orange County highways, and that freeways should remain free.
“So you’re going to pay for that whole freeway, and then you’re going to pay if you want to ride on it. That’s not right,” Seal Beach Mayor Pro Tem Ellery Deaton said. “I will never vote for anything else that they ever ask me to vote for from OCTA, because they lied to me, and I’m mad.”
Following a meeting in September, the Orange County Transportation Authority’s (OCTA) Board Of Directors is scheduled to vote on Nov. 8 on the Caltrans-backed proposal, which would add toll lanes on the 405 between SR-55 at Costa Mesa and the 605 Freeway at the Los Angeles County border.
If approved, construction would begin in 2015 and is estimated to last up to five years.
The 405 Freeway Cities Coalition, who organized the town hall-style forum, hosted a panel comprised of City Council members from six cities: Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, and Westminster. Several elected public officials also attended.
Second District Supervisor John Moorlach said the state appears to be tying freeway funding to an agreement to introduce toll lanes, which in turn has led to push-back by residents.
“We need to step up and say, ‘Wait a second, we’re the second-highest generator of income tax for the state of all 58 counties, and you’re treating us as if we haven’t been planning and doing the right things over all this time period,” Moorlach said. “That just doesn’t sit well.”
The 405 freeway in Orange County is counted among the busiest stretches of road in all of the U.S., with over 370,000 cars a day traveling up and down the interstate.
Express toll lanes that were installed and opened on the Harbor (110) Freeway earlier this year have been blamed for slower traffic speeds, with officials attributing the slowdown to solo drivers no longer being allowed to use the carpool lane illegally.
The OCTA did not speak at the meeting, and former Westminster mayor Margie Rice believes she knows the reason why.
“Because when they come, we give them hell,” former Westminster mayor Margie Rice said. “We tell them what we think.”