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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional
Review / DEVELOPMENTS IN ORANGE, RIVERSIDE, SAN BERNARDINO
AND VENTURA COUNTIES : ORANGE COUNTY

Traffic Forecaster Gets Pact Despite Past Errors

March 10, 2000

A traffic forecasting firm that seriously miscalculated ridership on a county toll road has won a contract for a new study, despite concerns about the company's past mistakes.

Board members of the Transportation Corridor Agencies voted unanimously Thursday to award the $90,000 contract to Wilbur Smith and Associates, saying they picked the firm because the study needs to be completed quickly.

It was not, they said, a vote of confidence in the company, whose faulty projections for the 15-mile San Joaquin Hills toll road between Newport Beach and San Clemente have had serious repercussions.

Current traffic on the road is more than 40% short of the firm's original 1993 estimates and is lagging 16% behind revised 1998 predictions. The forecasts have angered board members.

The latest study will analyze traffic patterns by surveying drivers about their habits. It is one of the first steps toward introducing "value pricing," which involves charging higher tolls during the busiest times of the day. A federal grant will pay for about 80% of the study.

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