IRVINE, Calif. - June 10, 2021
At their joint meeting today, the Boards of Directors for the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) approved budgets totaling $280.6 million that focus on continued operations, key capital improvement projects and financial stability.
The two approved Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budgets – $139.3 million for the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency (SJHTCA) and $141.3 million for the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA) – allow the Agencies to continue to meet important financial obligations while advancing priority projects.
“Thanks to our conservative fiscal approach over the years, we were in a strong financial position prior to the pandemic, and we are now well-positioned to advance important mobility initiatives. One such project is the 241/91 Express Connector, a project that will reduce travel times along State Route 91 and improve quality of life for residents in both Orange and Riverside County,” said F/ETCA Chair and Yorba Linda Mayor Peggy Huang. The 241/91 project is a near-term priority reflected in the Agencies’ Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).
Along with the budgets, the Joint Boards of Directors approved TCA’s FY22 CIP, which is updated annually to provide a summary of projects completed and outline proposed traffic improvements for residents and commuters. While the initial structure of the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads (accounting for 20% of Orange County’s highway system) has been built, long-planned median and interchange operational improvements are implemented on an ongoing basis to keep pace with changing traffic conditions, the needs of drivers and regional mobility.
In FY21, the Oso Parkway Bridge and Signage Enhancements Project reached substantial completion while TCA continued to work with its partner agencies to advance the 241/91 Express Connector – which is in the final design phase. In the future, improvements are planned on State Route (SR) 73 at Catalina View and SR 241’s Loma Ridge (the portion of SR 241 between SR 133 and SR 261).
Construction of the initial roadway segments and completed capital improvement projects constitute over $1.6 billion in investment for the F/ETCA and more than $1.2 billion for the SJHTCA. The FY22 CIP represents an approximately $289.8 million investment for the F/ETCA and approximately $2.8 million investment for the SJHTCA through 2025.
“Sound planning has allowed us to approve a budget that solidifies TCA’s strong financial responsibility and that takes into account the robust ridership recovery The Toll Roads have experienced as pandemic restrictions have eased,” said SJHTCA Chair and Mission Viejo Mayor Trish Kelley. “I applaud staff for bringing us budgets that put the interests of our drivers and investors at the forefront.”
The budgets reinforce TCA’s commitment to meeting bond obligations following an innovative bond refunding for the F/ETCA in 2021 that saved the Agency in excess of $210 million net of all transaction costs. The refunding decreased annual debt payments without extending any bond maturity dates. Both Agencies are financially responsible and have never missed a bond payment – which occur semi-annually and are scheduled through the life of the bonds.
“Even during times of economic uncertainty – heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic – TCA remains poised as two of the nation’s most successful toll facilities utilizing non-recourse financing,” said TCA CEO Samuel Johnson. “Our approach to fiscal responsibility has served us well in achieving continued bond rating upgrades from Wall Street, reducing our debt and providing liquidity that allows us to plan for necessary system improvements without incurring additional debt or dependency on tax-based sources.”
When the pandemic hit, TCA shifted its focus to provide care and support for the community. In addition to a number of COVID-relief measures, the Boards also deferred the 2020 annual toll rate adjustment. With the economy now showing strong signs of recovery – and in accordance with TCA policy adopted by the joint Boards of Directors in 2016 – a small 2% inflationary toll rate adjustment will take effect July 1. The standard adjustment amounts to pennies per transaction for drivers and the $1 per toll discount program continues to provide savings of hundreds of dollars per year for prepaid FasTrak® drivers. Toll rates can be found at thetollroads.com/tolls/map-rates.
The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) are two joint powers authorities formed by the California Legislature in 1986 to plan, finance, construct and operate Orange County’s public toll road system comprised of the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads.