The Huntington Beach City Council declared opposition Tuesday to a proposal that would add a toll lane to the 405 Freeway along a heavily traveled stretch of Orange County.
The council voted to allow Mayor Connie Boardman to send a letter to the California Department of Transportation opposing paid lanes on the 405, according to the Huntington Beach Independent.
"I think that it's completely appropriate that we express our objections, not only to the toll lanes, but also to Caltrans' attempt to usurp local control," said Councilman Matthew Harper. "I think this should be a political decision made by our county folks, and certainly this is important to us here in Huntington Beach."
The toll lanes, proposed for a stretch of the 405 between Costa Mesa and the Los Angeles County line, would allow solo drivers to access the carpool lanes, similar to the test program now in place along the 110 Freeway in Los Angeles.
With the number of hybrid and electric vehicles growing, Caltrans said it was concerned about the speeds on HOV lanes dropping to below 45 mph during rush hour, according to a staff report reviewed by the City Council.
Such alternative-fuel vehicles are allowed to use HOV lanes, possibly adding congestion to what should be a fast-moving freeway option. The transportation agency's solution would be to convert the existing HOV lane on the 405 to a toll lane.
Other cities along the stretch of the 405 being considered for toll lanes have also expressed opposition. Costa Mesa officials dismissed the idea of what its former mayor deemed "Lexus Lanes," because only high-income drivers can afford them.
Seal Beach and Los Alamitos, where the toll roads would end at the juncture with the 605 Freeway, are also strongly opposed, as are some officials in neighboring Long Beach.
[For the record, 12:27 p.m. Sept. 6: An earlier version of this story incorrectly quoted City Councilman Matthew Harper as saying "I think that it's completely appropriate that we express our objections, not only to the toll lanes, but also to Caltrans' attempt to assert local control."]
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Carpio writes for Times Community News.