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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Trestles, San Onofre State Beach saved: Toll road project rejected

The waves are small and the water's frigid, but it's a glorious day for surfers and environmentalists, and for state parks, and for all who opposed the effort to erect the Foothill South toll road through part of San Onofre State Beach near San Clemente.

The U.S. Commerce Department today decided against the Transportation Corridor Authority's proposed toll road extension, which would have spoiled the aesthetics of one of California's most popular state parks, jeopardized a pristine watershed and the waves at Lower Trestles, which is one of the world's premier surf venues.

"The [Commerce] secretary’s decision confirms just how bad this project really is: Even the Bush administration, under pressure from all the lobbyists money can buy, has refused to endorse the toll road through San Onofre," Joel Reynolds, an attorney representing the National Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.

"In my 30 years experience, I have never seen a project more deserving of rejection. The transportation agency lobbied 20 years for this toll road, spent billions of dollars on lobbyists, and were trying to shove the $1.1 billion for this road onto the shoulders of taxpayers already burdened by the economy.

"You simply couldn't design a transportation project that does more harm to taxpayers and the environment and less good for congestion relief."

Several groups opposed the project and will be issuing statements such as this throughout the day. Congratulations to all who fought against it. The project, which had already been rejected by the California Coastal Commission, never should have gotten so far along.

--Pete Thomas

Photos: A protester (top) expresses opposition to a proposed toll road extension through San Onofre State Beach, which contains one of Southern California's few remaining pristine watersheds (bottom). Credits: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times (top) and Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times

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