Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Foothill Toll Roads :: Environmental Wildlife Essays

Foothill Toll Road's All those that are regulars of the I-5 south know how agitating it is to sit through the bumper to bumper traffic, especially on those 90 degree plus summer days. An alternative route is under construction which will help to alleviate some of these traffic woes. The proposed toll road will run parallel to the I-5 and will connect the current portion of the Foothill Tollway to the I-5, just south of San Clemente. As good as this sounds, many sacrifices must be made to accommodate this preferred route. Those that will feel the greatest wrath of the new road are the animals and plants that reside in the San Onofre State Park. The preferred route will be composed of a toll road which will cut directly through the 3,126 acre park. Those that are in favor of the toll road estimate that by the year 2010, the Foothill Corridor is projected to relieve Interstate 5 of 35,000 cars per day, Interstate 405 of 22,000, PCH of 13,000 and Moulton Parkway of 20,000. It is estimated that the corridor will carry 170,000 vehicle trips per day. The 15 miles of roadway will require 24 million cubic yards of earthwork and 1.1 million tons of asphalt paving. The Foothill Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) has designed a plan with the greatest transportation benefits and the least environmental impacts. The mitigation of biological impacts includes 4 wildlife undercrossings, the creation of over 26.7 acres of wetlands and planting or enhancing 262 acres of the coastal sage scrub habitat. Environmentalists oppose the development of this because of the wildlife that will be endangered and threatened, primarily the California Gnatcatcher. Species that will be endangered include the Pacific pocket mouse, Arroyo southwestern toad, Tidewater goby, Southwestern willow flycatcher, least Bell's vireo and the Riverside fairy shrimp. Those animals that will be threatened consist of the California red-legged frog and the southern steelhead trout (which will no longer have viable habitat in that area). The route would cut through the canyon area that is the home to the "core" population of the California gnatcatcher. The Fish and Wildlife officials estimate that 35 pairs of the birds, which are listed as an endangered species, would be disrupted or displaced by the road and effects of the noise created by construction. There are about 100 pairs of these birds occupying the canyon area and it is from this "core" that the gnatcatchers produce new birds to surrounding areas.

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