Toll Lanes Issue Roils Yucaipa Council Race

By on October 23, 2016
Toll Roads Coming to Yucaipa

Press Reports Contradict Riddell’s assertions that he has not supported toll lanes

The race for who will represent the fifth district on the City Council which many thought would be an easy ride for 22-year incumbent, Dick Riddell, has turned contentious and appears to be sending Riddell to a loss over one main issue – proposed toll lanes on the I-10 Freeway.

These toll lanes that are the proposed plan of SANBAG (San Bernardino Associated Governments) are deeply unpopular with the citizens of the region and Riddell’s support of these proposed “Lexus Lanes” are acting as an anchor on his candidacy.

At a recent candidate forum Riddell was confronted by his rival former deputy district attorney and Judge Robert Fawke who challenged the wisdom of Riddell’s support for the project saying he would fight to stop the toll road plan if elected.

Riddell stopped short of saying that he did not vote for the plan, but attempted to obfuscate on whether or not the lanes are toll lanes or HOV or HOT lanes or otherwise.

A number of letters were then run in the Yucaipa-Calimesa News Mirror that denied the lanes are toll lanes and otherwise defended Riddell and attacked the credibility of a man with a spotless record of integrity in Judge Fawke.

Here are the facts:

The preferred SANBAG plan is to create toll lanes on the I-10 Freeway from the Los Angeles County line to a terminus of Ford Street in Redlands.  This will bring toll lanes within spitting distance of Yucaipa and create a traffic nightmare for anyone who commutes on the I-10 unless they are willing to pay to get out of the traffic.

Other press reports bear out the facts as stated.

As printed in the San Bernardino Sentinel, January 23, 2016

County Transportation Agency Quietly Pushing Toll Lanes On I-10 & I-15

San Bernardino County’s Transportation Agency is stealthily militating to create toll lanes along Interstate-10, and Interstate-15 at a cost of over $15 billion.

Highland Mayor Larry McCallon, Rancho Cucamonga Mayor L. Dennis Michael, Barstow Mayor Julie McIntyre, Big Bear Councilman Bill Jahn, Upland Mayor Ray Musser, Chino Mayor Dennis Yates, Victorville Councilman Ryan McEachron, Chino Hills Councilman Ed Graham, Yucaipa Councilman Dick Riddell, Yucca Valley Councilman George Huntington, Hesperia Councilman Mike Leonard, Needles Mayor Edward Paget and Ontario Councilman Alan Wapner all have supported constructing the toll lanes.

The most comprehensive explication of the undertaking is in a document completed and filed in January 2012 titled the “Measure I 1020-2040 Ten Year Delivery Plan.” In that document, the toll lanes are not referred to as “toll lanes” but rather as HOT lanes. One must go to an “acronym list” at the back of the document to learn that HOT stands for “High-Occupancy Toll.” The definition explains that “HOT lanes are HOV (i.e. high occupancy vehicle or car pool) lanes that also allow vehicles not meeting minimum occupancy requirements to use the lane by paying a toll.”

As printed in the Fontana Herald, by Alejandro Cano, April 11, 2015

Officials discuss long-range ideas for I-10, I-15 freeways, including toll lane proposals

San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG), the County’s transportation agency, approved on April 1 a draft that explains how toll lanes on local freeways could potentially operate and how money would be collected and spent.

With a 28-3 vote, SANBAG moved forward on exploring ideas to fund widening projects in the future, including bringing toll lanes to the Interstate 10 and Interstate 15 freeways.

Michael said that toll roads on the I-10 Freeway, from Pomona to Redlands, could become a reality…

As printed in the Press Enterprise, by Stephen Wall, May 18, 2015

San Bernardino County: Plans for I-10 toll lanes move forward

Want a faster commute? You may get one if you’re willing to spend a little more money.

San Bernardino County is moving ahead with plans for toll lanes, much like those already under construction on Riverside County’s portion of the 91 freeway in Corona.

Both Inland counties are following the path of Orange County, which has had toll lanes and toll roads for years and whose experience has been bumpy.

Plans also call for toll lanes on a 33-mile stretch of I-10 from near the Los Angeles County line to Redlands.

Critics call toll lanes “Lexus Lanes” for rich people that leave low-income drivers stuff in traffic.

“I don’t think our local residents can afford to drive on them”, said Fontana Councilman Michael Tahan. “Maybe a guy from Orange County or L.A. can afford it, but not our local community.”

‘A Painfull Pill’

Traffic counts on I-10 and I-15 are anticipated to reach 668,500 vehicles per day by 2045—a 38 percent increase. The two freeways carry up to 47,500 commercial trucks per day, causing additional congestion, officials say.

Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, introduced legislation to allow San Bernardino Associated Governments to operate the toll lanes.

As printed online on Inland Politics, April 2, 2015

Inland Politics: Proposed Toll Lane hijack not going unnoticed

A sleepy and mostly unnoticed agency, charged with allocating funds for San Bernardino County transportation projects, is starting to attract attention because of a controversial proposal.

The Wednesday meeting of the agency, known as San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG), actually had the rate unpleasantness of public attendees.

In response, some of the local officials, comprising the agency board, actually felt the need to be escorted to their vehicles by Sheriff’s Deputies.

Why you ask?

Following a lavish breakfast buffet, officials voted to put in motion a process to fleece county taxpayers.

Like thieves in the night, they’re coming for your pocket book.

San Bernardino County officials, not having enough money to throw around, want more of your dough to spend. So this new idea has been hatched.

That idea consists of restricting existing traffic lanes for the purpose of creating the county’s first ever toll lanes. But the money being charged isn’t going to the purpose of building new toll lanes. But instead take away the one’s they just built.

SANBAG would then spend the toll money elsewhere in the High Desert.

The only problem? The lanes targeted for takeover have already been funded by voter-approved Measure I funds. Measure I is a half-cent county sales tax to fund transportation needs.

In other words, Inland Empire commuters that can afford extra tolls will have a faster commute to work. The less fortunate will have a longer drive in heavier traffic, since the once-available lanes they are already paying for will be unavailable to them.

It is an indisputable fact that SANBAG is moving forward with plans to create toll lanes on the I-10 Freeway.  It is also indisputable that Councilman Dick Riddell has repeatedly voted for the toll lanes.  These toll lanes will cost Yucaipa residents thousands of dollars per year if they choose to use them or they will be stuck in traffic.

A review of the evidence clearly shows that Judge Robert Fawke has been absolutely correct in all of his statements about the toll lanes and Dick Riddell’s support for them.