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Duff Wilmoth, San Juan Capistrano

Reading the “End of the (Toll) Road” article (Dana Point Times, October 17,, I came away less than enlightened due to a void of trenchant and pragmatic observations from the informed authorities who were interviewed. Truth be told, it was an epic miss and I’m feeling a bit under served.

I failed to grasp Mayor Baker’s immaterial sound bite on the “art of the deal”—contractual machinations—nor Councilman Allevato’s banal allusion to enhancing local circulation. Nor was Todd Spitzer’s insider name dropping of the governor and state secretary of transportation helpful or pertinent. All three elected officials conveyed tedious information bordering on surrendering their fiduciary duty to their constituent’s welfare. Such is the puffery and civic balm required to mollify the masses regarding difficult issues.

The crux is grappling with a well-executed emergency management plan focused on regional evacuation, impacting 500,000 locals, from north Orange County to north San Diego County. There was a complete absence of input from local state Senate and Assembly offices, as well as the municipal emergency operations coordinators and the local transportation committee officials who are the front line, vested stakeholders insuring for all citizens welfare and safety during major disaster. The completed 241 Route, as envisioned, was selected by a collaborative study group that included the Federal Highway Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and Caltrans.

Alas, only the California Coastal Commission and Department of Commerce will adjudicate our future here and all else’s conjecture. As precedent, I would point to the effectively managed and very environmentally mitigated SR 73. I recall the vivid clamor that such a road would destroy the beloved San Joaquin Hills wilderness sanctuary.  These freeway systems are built by the best transportation engineers in the world and monitored by the most tenacious green groups in America.

Eighty years to build a road is hardly progress. The road is needed if for no other reason than collective safety. Not sure whether the opponents and critics are doomsday preppers or merely getting their meaculpa’s ready post incident that we should have, when we could have adopted an applicable strategic view on this project on behalf of our fellow citizens’ welfare. None will be in office come 2041. Until then, let’s hold our breath.

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