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Monday, Feb 6, 2023
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Letter



Toll Road Agency Seeks Correction to Letter From Army Engineers


Dear Editor:

The Transportation Corridor Agencies asked the Army Corps of Engineers to correct an April 7 letter regarding the federal environmental process for the completion of the state Route 241 toll road.

“Unfortunately, the letter contains serious misstatments concerning the nine-year, $20 million collaborative federal-state environmental review process undertaken for the extension of State Route 241,” TCA Chief Executive Officer Tom Margro stated in the letter addressed to Col. Thomas Magness, Los Angeles District commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The TCA’s letter corrects the record regarding several statements in the April 7 letter signed by Magness and provides citations to support each statement.

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“We take exception to your assertion that some of the statements made in the TCA’s Coastal Zone Management Act appeal are false,” Margro stated. “The Corps misinterpreted text in the TCA’s appeal regarding the standards that are applied by the Secretary of Commerce under the Coastal Zone Management Act.”

The standards and terms in the Coastal Zone Management Act differ from those applicable to the corps permit that the project requires.

Army Corps guidelines refer to “practicable” alternatives, while the CZMA regulations refer to “reasonable and available” alternatives. An alternative that is practicable under the guidelines of the Army Corps may not qualify as reasonable and available under the CZMA.

“Lengthy, multi-decade evaluation of the Project under state and federal law has demonstrated that the alternative identified by the Collaborative agencies is environmentally preferable and that other alternatives (such as the widening of Interstate 5) are not ‘reasonable and available’ because 1) the alternatives entail more severe impacts on the human or natural environment, and 2) there is no identified funding for the non-toll road alternatives,” according to the TCA letter.

The 16-mile alignment was selected after exhaustive study and a collaborative effort by local, state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Highway Administration, the California Department of Transportation, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and TCA.

The 16-mile stretch would connect the toll road to Interstate 5 at Basilone Road on Camp Pendleton, just north of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

The California Coastal Commission voted against the project in February and TCA has appealed that decision with the U.S. Department of Commerce.


Tom Margro

Transportation Corridor Agencies

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