Thursday, January 20, 2005

Freeway could hit Huntington
Transportation Authority's plans to extend the Orange Freeway include Surf city.
Neighbors object.
By Dave Brooks - Independent

The Orange County Transportation Authority is considering a plan to extend the Orange Freeway from Anaheim to Pacific Coast Highway. The extended freeway would run through Huntington Beach along the Santa Ana River and dead-end into the coast near Brookhurst Street.

The new highway, officials say, is needed to alleviate congestion in central Orange County, but residents living along the proposed route oppose the construction.

"Imagine the noise and disruption this will bring to our neighborhood," said Diane Founders, who owns a home near the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Brookhurst Street where the proposed freeway would be built. "Just think of what it would do to my property value? No one wants to live next to a sprawling freeway."

The freeway extension isn't a done deal, but has been identified as the lead alternative in the transportation authority's central corridor study. The transportation authority will present the proposal tonight at a 5 p.m. town hall meeting at the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Center, at 1845 Park Ave. Another meeting is scheduled for this Tuesday at the Monroe Elementary School at 16225 Newhope St. in Fountain Valley.

The Huntington Beach City Council is against the project, said councilwoman Cathy Green, who serves as a liaison to the transportation authority.

The freeway extension would draw Huntington Beach residents away from local businesses for bigger retail venues like South Coast Plaza, off the proposed San Diego Freeway interchange, as well as Fashion Island, which would be located just a few miles south of where the Orange Freeway would connect with Pacific Coast Highway.

"There would also be environmental impacts to the Santa Ana River, which I'm concerned about," Green said. "The city of Huntington Beach would not draw that much benefit from this project."

The Costa Mesa Freeway is the primary north-south route in the area, but with 275,000 vehicles a day using it, the artery is pushed to near full capacity.

"As a result, we're seeing a lot of traffic diverted to Beach Boulevard and Harbor Boulevard, and that is causing a negative impact on local neighborhoods," said transportation authority official Alice Rogan.

Expanding the Orange Freeway is just one of the many alternatives the transportation authority is considering for alleviating central county traffic.

To improve efficiency, the transportation authority is considering improvements to the bus system, and a possible carpool lane on the Golden State Freeway. The transportation authority is also considering installation of a light rail transit system from John Wayne Airport to Anaheim and carpool lane along the Costa Mesa Freeway.

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