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What's Around the Corner for Laguna Canyon Road?

April 17, 1988

I am disappointed with recent remarks made by Supervisor Thomas F. Riley regarding again seeking state Coastal Commission approval on widening California 133, Laguna Canyon Road.

The state Department of Transportation had the right to appeal February's commission decision, which overruled the road's widening but did not within the 30-day appeal limit. In fact, subsequent to the finding, and as a result of the commission's recognition of sensible safety improvements outlined and urged by the Laguna Canyon Conservancy, city officials and members of the conservancy met with Keith McKean, Caltrans' district director.

It was the first time a genuinely constructive meeting had ever taken place. Citizens indeed urge Caltrans to swiftly implement many safety precautions including light reflectors around the curve at Big Bend, cleaning and improving road shoulders, paving portions which are in disrepair, installing a traffic signal at Canyon Acres Drive and increased warning signs along the scenic and winding highway.

Many accidents might have been averted if Caltrans had fulfilled safety concerns long before now. However, as coastal commissioners astutely pointed out, the state transportation agency's primary agenda appeared to be an acute desire to increase capacity along the east/west coastal access. Sadly, it appeared, safety was but secondary issue.

Citizens are overwhelmingly in favor of increased safety, just as we overwhelmingly dispute the logic of increased capacity with regard to safety in an already overly congested community. The logic is beyond reason, especially in view of a penetrating frustration felt among Orange County residents who are fed up with traffic congestion, pollution and abundant development.

Might there be yet another agenda on Riley's list of priorities for this region? Does he wish to provide the South Coast with a four-lane parking lot to the sea? Yes, then we can all sit in the lovely canyon and enjoy the sounds of the birds, if, indeed, we and they survive the fumes.

SHAREN HEATH

Laguna Beach

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