Will a Magical Toll Road Get Us Out Alive?


Beam Me Up, Toll Road Builders…

Living in South Orange County, California, having suffered the County’s toll road myth (of Biblical proportions), seemingly forever, whenever I’m stuck in traffic on a freeway anywhere, I look around, wishing for that mythical, magical Toll Road to escape onto. 

Whichever freeway I’m stuck on, my eyes dart left, then right, wishing the place offered a Toll Road escape to traffic nirvana. Heavenly Car Commuting, as advertised by Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA-the local toll road imagination-offerer). All dreams answered, wherever TCA toll roads begin. If only. Like Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, stuck in a bad place, I cast my stuck-in-traffic eyes skyward, and mouth these 4-magical words, “Beam Me Up TCA.” 

Upward, to Toll Road Nirvana, at least that's what Orange County's Transportation Corridor Agencies wants you to believe

Instantly, a ray of white light encompasses my moribund earth-vehicle. Faint whirring ensues. Followed by mild vibration. Followed by a sense of heavenly weightlessness – then WHOOSH, I’m transported! Whizzing along at 80 – 90 – 100 mph!  Just me. On my own, empty, never-ever-used dream TCA toll road, just like in their ads: snow capped peaks in the distance. My car radio wafting Mozart’s 5th – YES, I’ve been TCA TRANSPORTED. From now on, no matter where I’m stuck (out of state, or in Trader Joe’s parking lot), no matter the freeway, or city street – I’ll mouth those magical words, “Beam Me Up TCA,” with a word of caution: stay the heck off my dream TCA road. It’s mine. And I ain’t sharing. Dream your own TCA myth-road, just like TCA does.

Nuclear Escape Toll Road, Please?

And while we’re in a wishing mode, a resident living down here in the shadow of San Onofre Nuke Plant (SONGS) recommends paving a Toll Road through the backcountry of San Onofre State Beach and the San Mateo Creek Watershed, as the ultimate solution to us escaping SONGS’ unscheduled meltdown. 

Seems like everyone but SONGS’ 2,300 employees and Edison knows their old double boiler’s gonna blow. It’s just a matter of when. Solution: a free (escape) toll road? He suggests: make it Free to Pico. We’ll all pay there. So, along with your cherished family mementos packed in your SONGS-evac trailer parked in the driveway (ready to roll at sirens first screech), keep $15 handy to pay the evac-toll at Pico (TCA’s suggested fare), on your 50-mile (minimum evac-distance) race to safety. Remember: pack everything important, because we won’t be coming back. We can make our San Clemente mortgage payments on-line from anywhere. Renters, you’re good to go.

Which makes the discussion of paving more and more escape routes outta here pretty nutty, when we could just shut SONGS now, and stop this impossible evacuation talk. Is 6.5% total state electricity generation, SONGS’s supposed out-put, worth the worry? Caltrans says, “We can’t pave our way out of congestion.” I’m thinking, as long as ol’SONGS is allowed to boil, we can’t pave our way to evacuation either, in any direction. In the meantime, keep those trailer tires properly inflated.

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