A new team of business people, stakeholders and others seeking to complete the last 16 miles of the 241 toll road was announced Wednesday morning during the annual changing of the board at the South Orange County Regional Chamber of Commerce meeting in Mission Viejo.
The SOC Economic Coalition is a new advocate for business interests in South County, said Jim Leach, Cox Cable's vice president and the initiative's new chairman.
The coalition will advocate job creation and hold business-to-business mixers where its members will advocate political positions favorable to businesses. Its members will appear at public meetings as advocates for business interests, too.
"Where there are NIMBYs, where there are people who don't recognize the importance of business, that's where we'll be," Leach said.
The coalition will also support the completion of the toll road, he said.
"We're going to be the ones selling t-shirts," SOC Chairman John Whitman said. He said 241 extension proponents will outnumber opponents five to one as he discussed raising money for the new coalition.
The completion of the last 16 miles of the 241 toll road has drawn crowds of thousands, for and against, at mass meetings of the California Coastal Commission at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. In Feb. 2008, the CCC rejected the extension in an 8-2 vote.
Right now the 241 stops at Oso Parkway in Rancho Santa Margarita. The extension would add 16 miles of highway connecting with I-5 south of San Clemente.
But the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency has released a study Wednesday they say proves the need for the extension.
The extension would generate over $3 billion and add over 17,000 jobs to the state, including about 13,600 in Orange County, according to economic consultant Beacon Economics in a report commissioned by the TCA.
Here's how those numbers break down:
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Many of those jobs and much of the spending would go toward the actual construction of the extension, said TCA spokeswoman Lisa Telles.
Grocers, retailers and other businesses that rely on trucking would also benefit, Telles said.
The Surfrider Foundation has been the largest organized opponent to the extension. The environmental group says an extension would hurt water quality and waves at the popular Trestles surf spot, as well as promote development of a pristine stretch of Southern California.