The Toll Roads
At 948 square miles, Orange County is home to beautiful beaches, world-class shopping and the happiest place on Earth. It’s also home to the largest network of toll roads in the state.
Comprised of State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261, The Toll Roads make up over 20 percent of Orange County’s major thoroughfare highway system and are the fastest, easiest and most predictable way to get to and around Orange County.
Collectively, The Toll Roads consist of 51 miles of state highway. The roads were designed, financed, constructed and opened to traffic in the early 1990’s at a cost of over $2 billion. The present value of The Toll Roads – including the cost of right-of-way and capital construction – is $12 billion.
The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) were created with the very clear mission of enhancing mobility in Orange County and Southern California by developing and operating publicly-owned toll roads as a part of the state highway system.
Studies conducted during the 1970s identified that several new roads were needed to serve Orange County. By 1981, State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261 were roughly sketched onto the county's road plans.
The Toll Roads were originally planned as freeways – but due to a lack of state funding they had to be built as tolled roads. To finance the roads, toll revenue bonds were sold as the major funding source and development impact fees have been assessed on new construction under Section 66484.3 of the California Government Code.
To plan, design, finance, construct and operate major thoroughfares and bridges in Orange County, two Joint Powers Authorities* were organized under the provisions of state law and a Joint Exercise of Powers Agreements (JPA) among the County of Orange and certain cities within the County was established. In 1987, Senate Bill 1413 passed, giving TCA the authority to construct the new roads as toll facilities and issue bonds backed by future toll revenues and development impact fees.
Construction of The Toll Roads was funded through the sale of bonds to both private individuals and institutional investors. The bonds can only be repaid by future tolls and development fees. Since the bonds are not backed by government, taxpayers are not responsible for repaying the debt nor do taxpayers carry the risk if future toll revenues fall short. Today, toll and development impact fee revenue go toward retiring the construction debt, funding additional improvements and covering costs of operating The Toll Roads.
The Toll Roads were the first public highways to be constructed in Orange County since 1987. Although TCA built The Toll Roads and operates the toll collection system, Caltrans owns the roads and maintains them as part of the state highway system and the California Highway Patrol is responsible for law enforcement.
The Toll Roads Today
The Toll Roads have been providing a choice for drivers for 20 years. And now, with more than 300,000 transactions recorded a day, TCA is on solid financial ground. The 2013 and 2014 refinancing of the Foothill/Eastern and San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agencies’ debt that originally funded construction of the system took advantage of historically low interest rates and established debt structures that align with The Toll Roads’ historical revenue growth, including the dip in traffic that took place during the recent recession. Since the refinancings, transactions and revenue have exceeded projections and reserves have grown providing stability to weather future economic downturns and support financing of TCA’s Capital Improvement Program.
As the region's population increases and the economy grows, TCA works toward ensuring that The Toll Roads remain valuable, congestion-free alternatives to local freeways. TCA is committed to excellent customer service, improving mobility and preserving our quality of life now and in the future.
*The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency JPA members include the County of Orange and the cities of Anaheim, Dana Point, Irvine, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Orange, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Tustin and Yorba Linda.
The San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency JPA members include the County of Orange and the cities of Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Irvine, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano and Santa Ana.