The California Transportation Commission voted Wednesday to budget $35 million in the 1988 state highway improvement plan for the interchange of the new San Joaquin Hills highway and Interstate 5 near San Juan Capistrano.
The 8-0 vote at the commission's meeting in San Diego marked the first time that state funding has been designated for the 14-mile extension of California 73 from Newport Beach to Interstate 5 through Laguna Hills.
The action was sought by former Supervisor Bruce Nestande, a state Transportation Commission member, and other Orange County transportation officials, to protect the project's eligibility for 35% federal matching funds.
Toll Roads Authorized
Under recent federal legislation, the new highway can be a demonstration toll road project funded up to 35% by the federal government. The state Legislature has authorized the county to have toll roads whether or not they receive federal funding. But the state commission must include projects in the State Transportation Improvement Program or STIP, a five-year spending plan updated annually, in order for county officials to obtain federal dollars.
Orange County Transportation Commission members have voted to make the San Joaquin project a toll road, but the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency, which administers the project, has not yet made such a decision.