Orange County’s tollway agency should find another route for a proposed toll road that does not cut through the Camp Pendleton Marine base, the commanding general at the base said in a letter sent to news outlets this week.
The letter, which follows a similar letter sent by the Secretary of the Navy in February, seems to leave little room for negotiation over the toll road route. The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency had offered a new proposed route that would slice across the northern edge of the base but would include walls and other features to screen motorists from a view of base training.
“In our view, it’s time for the TCA to find another alternative to it’s (sic) current proposed alignment of the 241 Toll Road through vital training areas on Camp Pendleton,” it reads.
It is signed by Maj. Gen. Anthony L. Jackson, Commanding General, Marine Corps Installations West, and Col. Nick Marano, Commanding Officer, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
In the previous letter, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus wrote that after a thorough review, “I have determined that the proposed new TCA route would unacceptably impact the Marine Corps’ ability to train and prepare for all contingency operations.”
But, as with the previous letter, the Transportation Corridor Agency views the latest letter as “a starting point,” not a final rejection, said spokeswoman Jennifer Seaton.
The agency, she said, “would like to discuss with Camp Pendleton whether adjustments could be made to make it acceptable to them.”
The commanding general’s letter says the mission of Camp Pendleton is to provide “high quality ranges, training areas and facilities to the operating forces so our Marines and Sailors can prepare to execute any required mission.
“The skills they learn and practice here enable them to defeat our nation’s enemies and save the lives of our Marines and Sailors on the battlefield. We owe the sons and daughters of America who have volunteered in service of this nation the finest training possible.”
Seaton said the tollway agency understands the base’s mission.
“We agree their mission is supporting and training Marines and sailors is critically important, and TCA would never do anything to jeopardize that mission,” she said.
Toll road engineers employed some creative solutions in their new proposed route to get around objections that caused a previous proposal to be defeated in 2008, first by the state Coastal Commission and, on a later appeal, by the U.S. Commerce Secretary.
It would have cut through San Onofre State Park — located on military land that is leased to State Parks — and drew strenuous objections from environmental activists, who feared sediment washed downstream from the road’s construction could disrupt surfing at the famous Trestles Beach.
The tollway agency said there would be no effect on Trestles, and that it would use restoration and re-creation of habitat to make up for any environmental damage.
The agency says the road is needed to complete its network of toll roads and to relieve future traffic congestion.