405 Toll-Gate For Dummies: How the proposed toll lanes are illegal.

(E-mail ALL the OCTA Board Members by clicking HERE.)


Let’s get right down to the heart of it.  Opponents of the 405 Toll Lanes (known as “Alternative 3”) claim that the spending of public money to build the toll lanes is a theft of  public money and a subversion of democracy, since nothing about any toll lanes was mentioned in the campaign for the Measure M sales tax, or is included in the Measure itself, and there’s no way Measure M would have got the 2/3 majority it needed if voters knew it would lead to toll lanes.  Voters were convinced to tax themselves an extra 1/2 cent for the promise of expanding freeways – and toll lanes are not free!

Here is the Toll Trolls’ counter-argument to that, as expressed to me by an OCTA member who called me last night and talked my ear off, does not want to be identified, (and actually opposes the Toll Road for his own separate reasons.)

  • 1.3 billion is currently available from the Measure M sales tax.  (I was right about that, unlike other confused journalists.)
  • 1.3 billion is exactly what is needed for the extra lane of Alternative 1, and nearly what’s needed for the two extra lanes of Alternative 2 (which costs 1.4 billion – the extra .1 can be finessed somehow.)
  • “The only thing OCTA owes voters” is the extra lane, or two, of Alt 1 or 2;  and whether or not OCTA also constructs toll lanes is none of voters’ business.
  • The Toll Lanes – Alternative 3, which is like Alternative 2 but with the two inner lanes converted to Toll/HOV lanes, costs 1.7 billion – that’s .3 or .4 billion over what the sales tax paid for.
  • This extra .3 or .4 billion will be covered by bonds financed by the tolls.  The rich folks paying the tolls are paying for their own toll lanes themselves.   So settle down and be happy with your two new general purpose lanes.

Only a LITTLE BIT OF THOUGHT about that leads us to retort:  “Wait … NO!  That’s just not right!  In fact … Hell NO!  WTF?????”

Because under Alternative 3 we taxpayers would be paying $1.3 billion of our sales tax money and getting NOTHING in return.  Okay.  Let me make this “concrete.”  We’re talking about a stretch that currently has FIVE LANES  (with the far-left one currently being a 2+ carpool lane.)  Alternative 3 (like Alternative 2) would build two extra lanes off to the right for a total of SEVEN LANES.


Then it would take the two inner lanes, and convert them into high-priced toll lanes (or lanes for 3+ occupancy vehicles who would also have to pay a reduced toll themselves.)  And this leaves the rest of us taxpayer/commuters with…

FIVE LANES.  Just like we had before we spent $1.3 or $1.4 BILLION.

We will have got nothing.  We will have been lied to.  We will have been bilked.

This is the basic, strongest, and unanswerable argument against the Alternative 3 Toll Roads.  There are plenty of other interesting arguments, pro and con, some more and less compelling than others.  But this is the one that sits in the middle of the discussion like the Sphinx.  And I will publish this piece now, so that all of you can start getting used to this.  I’ll add more to this story later, with info about each of the 17 Board members who will be voting on this;  contact info;  and a running headcount of where they stand and why.  And speculation on what could really be influencing their positions.

See you soon..

Our Coverage Thus Far:

AND NOW, somebody has created the excellent…

No 405 Tolls.Com!

E-mail ALL the OCTA Board Members by clicking HERE.



About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.