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For Whom the Road Tolls

There are obviously a number of environmental impacts that must be addressed relative to the proposed extension of the Foothill South Toll Road. Arguably, some of these impacts can be mitigated. Others cannot. One area of concern which cannot be mitigated is the impact this proposed toll road would have upon open space in Orange County.

As a 30-year resident of Orange County, I can still remember the bountiful orange groves and family farms which inspired the very name of our county. Virtually all of what existed then is now but a memory, having been replaced by cookie-cutter housing developments, unsightly strip malls, and graffiti-covered walls.

Webster's dictionary defines "toll" as "THE COST IN LOSS OR SUFFERING AT WHICH SOMETHING IS ACHIEVED". What will be lost to Orange County residents is our very quality of life. What will be achieved is more money in the pockets of greedy developers, and more campaign dollars in the coffers of unscrupulous elected officials.

Make no mistake about it. TOLL ROADS DO NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO EASE TRAFFIC CONGESTION. What toll roads do is facilitate future development. Toll roads are, in fact a precursor to future development, and as such, are a major contributor to what we have come to recognize as urban sprawl.

Open space, whether it be in the form of vast regional parks or smaller community parks, hiking and bicycling trails, wildlife sanctuaries, wetlands, and other natural habitats, is NOT replaceable or mitigatable. Once it's gone, it's gone forever!

While it is impossible to quantify the relative costs and dubious "benefits" of this proposed toll road, I would just like to paraphrase a popular commercial which puts this whole issue in perspective:

Average daily round-trip fee to ride the toll road---------------------------------------------$8.00
Typical cost of a new car to drive on the toll road---------------------------------------$35,000
Median price of a new home next to the toll road--------------------------------------$600,000
Spending the day with your children or grandchildren in a beautiful park------priceless

Eddie Rose
Former Laguna Niguel City Councilman
Candidate for Orange County Board of Supervisors (5th District)
"A Voice --- Not an Echo"