Minutes from July 11, 2017 Open Board Meeting-The Toll Roads

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

 Open Board of Directors Meeting

 San Bernardino Community College District
114 S. Del Rosa Drive
San Bernardino, CA 92408



Present: Deborah Barmack, Peter Barmack, Carole Beswick, Mike Burrows, Jennifer Cusack, Louis Goodwin, Dick Hart, Scott Hofferber, Mark Kaenel, Lowell King, Pam Langford, P.T. McEwen, Dan Murphy, Roman Nava, Vikki Ostermann, Cid Pinedo, Michael Rivera, Khalil Saba, Kristine Scott, Paul Shimoff and Ray Wolfe.

Guests: Jeff Bolt, Matt Kane, Sheriff McMahon, Frank Reyes and Barbara Thomas.

Announcements: 1) The SBCTA Board is scheduled to affirm the final environmental document for the I-10 Express Lanes at their meeting on Wednesday, July 12, 2017.  Business leaders are encouraged to speak, as strong public opposition is expected at this important meeting. 2) A summer party for Inland Action members will be held on Sunday, July 23rd, 2017 from 6:00 to 9:00p.m. at the Beswick Home.  Invitations will be e-mailed to the membership today.

Mark Kaenel advised Board Members that the UCR School of Public Policy has asked Inland Action to co-sponsor an event focused on the two counties (Riverside and San Bernardino). The co-sponsorship is at no cost.
M/S/P: Inland Action will Co-Sponsor the UCR School of Public Policy event

M/S/P: Minutes from June 20, 2017

Ray Wolfe introduced Mike Chesney, Chief Strategy Officer for the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) that operate The Toll Roads.

The TCA were created as joint powers authorities with certain cities in Orange County to enhance mobility in Orange County and Southern California by developing and operating publicly-owned toll facilities as a part of the regional transportation system comprised of State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 26.

Orange County has a limited freeway system and The Toll Roads consist of 51 open miles and represent 20% of the freeways in Orange County. The Toll Roads are built parallel to Orange County’s most congested freeways, giving drivers a choice.  They serve over 300,000 customers daily providing an easy and faster alternative.  Last year traffic grew some 9%, revenue increased over 12% and usage on Off-Peak and Weekend periods grew more than their Peak transactions.  Toll revenue totals nearly $300M annually and are used to pay off the cost of building the roads.  Drivers who do not choose the toll roads benefit as drivers using the toll roads reduce congestion on freeways and arterial streets.

The SR241/91 median-to-median connector will provide direct access into the 91 Express Lanes and is a project with the following partners: TCA, OCTA, RCTC and Caltrans. The $180M project will improve mobility by enhancing an alternative to SR-55 and local streets.  The direct, median-to-median tolled connector will reduce traffic congestion in both directions, enhance safety by reducing weaving across lanes and improve access to toll lanes in Orange and Riverside Counties. Completion of the final environmental document is expected late this year, construction begins in 2018 and the connector will be operational in 2020.

The TCA is dedicated to long-term environmental protection and management programs. They pioneered Orange County’s Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan approach and have more than 2,200 acres of restored, re-vegetated and preserved habitat.  They created a 5.3 mile long Wildlife Safety Fence that is 10 to 12 feet in height, buried 24 inches underground to prevent digging and has an 18-inch outrigger on top to prevent jumping over.  By protecting animals it also protects drivers by keeping animals in their natural habitat.  Additionally it funnels animals away from the roadway with jump-out ramps located every ½ mile.  This new fence design sets the model for transportation agencies in the region and internationally.

The 241 to I-5 connection is an ongoing challenge and learning process. In November 2016 a settlement agreement was reached that ended a 15 year dispute that closed 5 lawsuits from 15 entities (mostly environmental related).  The agreement ensures permanent protection of San Mateo Watershed, Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy, and other critical open space.  TCA now can move forward with a formal Project Initiation Document and subsequently a CEQA/NEPA process on a transportation solution.

The TCA is re-evaluating route possibilities. They have used a very open and deliberative multi-step stakeholder outreach to discuss how to connect the 241 to the I-5 freeway.  Their community ascertainment study was completed in Jan. 2016 and they have conducted numerous Public Forums which have supplied them with various conceptual ideas.

Screening Criteria consists of

  • Traffic Performance
  • Provide additional North-South regional capacity in case of emergencies
  • Provide an alternate North-South regional route in case of major incidents on I-5
  • Compatibility with regional planning
  • Environmental impacts
  • Cost/funding

The process timeline is as follows:

  • 2015 Community ascertainment
  • 2016 Initial public input
  • Feb-Aug 2017 begin project initiation process and develop project initiation document (further public input planned)
  • Sept 2017– Feb 2018 Begin EIR/EIS scoping and begin technical studies (further public input planned)
  • 2018 Continue technical studies
  • 2019 Draft EIR/EIS (further public input planned)
  • 2020 Final EIR/EIS (further public input planned)
  • 2021 Record of Decision

More information and updates can be found at www.thetollroads.com and www.getmovingoc.com

A Q & A period followed
Meeting adjourned at 8:34 a.m.