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Council still against tunnel

Mayor argues that money should be spend on public transit, repairs instead of a tunnel.

August 26, 2010|By Barbara Diamond

The City Council voted unanimously Aug. 17 to support Mayor Elizabeth Pearson's recommendation to reiterate the city's opposition to a proposed tunnel that would connect Riverside County to Highway 133/Laguna Canyon Road.

Riverside County officials and some transportation authorities are touting the route as a way for more Inland Empire residents to get to the coast more quickly.

"The city is already inundated with traffic in the summertime," Pearson said.

Riverside and Orange County officials came up with the notion to relieve congestion on the Riverside (91) Freeway by constructing a tunnel under the Cleveland National Forest for automobiles, buses, trains and water , but the economy makes the project impractical, Pearson said.

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The billions of dollars necessary to bore a tunnel under the mountains could be used more effectively in promoting public transit and key highway improvements within Orange County, she said.

Laguna Beach has been on record since 2007 against vehicular traffic through the tunnel.

"We know that, as part of the Great Park plan, Lennar will be constructing 10,000 homes, which will be accessed from Barranca Parkway, and the closest beaches to those homes are in Laguna Beach," Pearson said. "And the Irvine Co. is getting ready to build approximately 150 homes that will be accessed from Laguna Canyon Road. Guess where those folks are going to go to the beach?"

Pearson said the city must be proactive in advance of the tunnel discussions and decisions and development that will impact Laguna.

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