The Public Will Be Heard: Secretary Of Commerce To Hold Toll Road Hearing This Summer

San Clemente, CA (May 28, 2008) – After receiving thousands of letters from the public opposing the toll road, the Secretary of Commerce announced on May 21 that it will conduct a public hearing later this summer regarding the controversial 241 Toll Road proposed to be built through San Onofre State Beach. This announcement marks a huge boost in the fight to protect San Onofre State Beach and the famed surf at Trestles and reaffirms the importance of the public’s involvement.

This past February opponents of the Toll Road scored a major victory when the California Coastal Commission struck down the proposed six-lane highway on grounds that it violates the Coastal Act. Almost immediately following the Commission’s ruling, the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) appealed to the Secretary of Commerce. Since the appeal, letters have flooded the Secretary’s office calling on him to protect the California coast.

However, the TCA wanted the public to be silenced and pushed that the decision be made “behind closed doors.” Mischaracterizing the February Coastal Commission hearing which lasted over fourteen hours and drew more than 3,500 people, making it the largest Commission hearing in history, the TCA’s request shows that they are less interested in hearing the public’s concerns and more focused on pushing through an ill-conceived proposal that does not meet California environmental standards.

“We are thrilled that the Commerce Department did not give in to the TCA’s attempts to silence the public,” says Mark Rauscher, Assistant Environmental Director for the Surfrider Foundation. “We firmly believe that once the Secretary hears from the people he will agree with the Coastal Commission and deny this destructive proposal.”

Toll road opponents will continue to keep pressure on the Secretary of Commerce to uphold the Coastal Commission’s decision by highlighting the devastating impacts the road will have on wildlife, archaeological sites, water quality and beach access. The proposed toll road would cut through the heart of San Onofre State Beach, and set a dangerous precedent for the State Park system.

For more information on the Save Trestles Campaign, go to Surfrider.org.

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