The South County Traffic Relief Effort (SCTRE) environmental phase is a Caltrans led effort and TCA is the sponsoring agency. The first project phase, the public scoping comment period, has ended. Public scoping meetings were held and comments were collected from Nov. 8, 2019 to Feb. 10, 2020. Comments received during the public scoping comment period will be taken into account as Caltrans prepares the Scoping Summary and Alternatives Screening Report to identify the alternatives that will be advanced for further technical study.
SCTRE Public Scoping Process
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), in partnership with the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA), is initiating the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for the South County Traffic Relief Effort. This begins with the public scoping process, which is to garner public input on the proposed project’s preliminary Purpose and Need and the current range of preliminary alternatives to be studied. Caltrans is the lead agency for the proposed project under the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Two meetings to provide opportunity for community engagement were held in 2019. The first was held on Nov. 20, 2019 in Mission Viejo and the second was held on Dec. 4, 2019 in Dana Point. The meetings were open house style format and no formal presentation was provided.
Public comments regarding the ten alternatives and the no-build alternative will be reviewed by Caltrans as part of the formal scoping portion of the Project Approval / Environmental Document (PA/ED) phase of the process.
Upon completion of the scoping process, Caltrans will prepare a Draft EIR/EIS for public review and comment. It is anticipated that a Draft EIR/EIS will be available for public review in 2023.
Throughout the environmental review process, Caltrans and TCA will continue its ongoing discussions with the community, stakeholders, environmental organizations and elected officials. This is a public process and the community is encouraged to participate and remain engaged every step of the way to ensure your community’s needs and priorities are considered. Please visit the project website at SCTRE.org.
In 2015, TCA conducted a South Orange County Community Ascertainment Study to determine if there was agreement that a regional traffic relief solution was needed. The residents and community-based leaders interviewed came to a consensus on two major issues:
- There is excessive traffic on the Interstate-5 (I-5) freeway during morning and evening commute times, on weekends and whenever there is an accident or incident on the freeway.
- There is an expectation that their local elected officials and public transportation agencies should develop and implement a solution.
In collaboration with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), the County of Orange and other transportation planning agencies throughout the region, TCA began an initial process including three well-attended public forums in South Orange County to identify potential mobility improvement solutions. Over two years, the public submitted 20 ideas that were reviewed for their technical and feasible merit.
In 2017, TCA conducted an initial screening of the 20 ideas submitted by the public for the South County Traffic Relief Effort. The ideas were sorted into four categories:
- Category 1 – Already Being Advanced or Implemented
- Category 2 – Ineffective or Premature
- Category 3 – Infeasible due to Regulatory or Financial Constraints
- Category 4 – Mobility Benefits/Further Study Needed
- Initial Screening Study
- Q&A Document
Seven of the 20 ideas, plus a No Build option were included in Category 4 and advanced forward for additional analysis as part of the Project Study Report / Project Development Support (PSR-PDS).