Here we go again. Critics successfully convinced the Orange County Transportation Authority to shelve the 405 toll-lanes proposal, but now Caltrans is backing the idea and hopes to use Orange County sales tax revenue to tax us even more.
Orange County voters have twice voted for Measure M, the half-cent sales tax, to pay for transportation needs in Orange County. The Measure M promise was clear: a new lane in each direction on the 405 from Costa Mesa to Seal Beach. Caltrans, like OCTA before it, wants to use Measure M funds to further increase revenue through the addition of toll lanes on the 405.
While support for toll lanes is seen primarily among special interests and government bureaucrats, many elected leaders have remained silent. They seem unwilling to draw the ire of special interests that want toll lanes for their own benefit. I'm open to a variety of ways to finance new construction, but converting existing lanes that we've already paid for into toll lanes is wrong.
There are other problems as well. While toll lanes will improve commute times for those who are willing to pay as much as $15 per day for the privilege, no one else would receive the benefit of Measure M taxes because the toll-lane proposal calls for the same number of free lanes as there are now.
Even worse is the fact that local residents would be unable to use the toll lanes (if they want to) because of limited entry and exit points along the Costa Mesa-to-Seal Beach route. In addition, local businesses that rely on out-of-town consumers would suffer when commuters choose the toll lanes and are unable to exit the freeway along the toll lane corridor.
I will continue to advocate for taxpayers and stand up to ensure that the Measure M promise is kept. Taxpayers were promised a free lane on the 405, and they should get it. Even if we can't stop Caltrans from building toll lanes, we can make sure that the state agency doesn't use Orange County tax revenue to do it.
Leadership on this issue requires more than sending a letter. My focus, now and in the future, will be on protecting Orange County taxpayers from the 405 toll-lanes money grab.
To help in this effort, like our Facebook page, Stop the I-405 Toll Lanes, and visit http://www.keepthe405free.com for more information.
Assemblyman ALLAN MANSOOR is a candidate for the Orange County Board of Supervisors.