IRVINE, Calif. - September 22, 2021
The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) — responsible for planning, designing, financing, constructing and operating more than 420 lane miles of Toll Roads in Orange County — are marking the 25th anniversary of the 73 Toll Road.
Since its first driver in 1996, the 73 Toll Road has been the region’s alternative to Interstate (I)-5, I-405, Pacific Coast Highway and busy arterials, serving those traveling to and through Orange County and the communities of Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Irvine, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Santa Ana and San Juan Capistrano. An average of 32 million tolls are processed on the 73 Toll Road annually and TCA boasts 2 million FasTrak® accountholders.
A quarter of a century ago, the 15-mile 73 Toll Road opened nearly four months ahead of schedule and under budget following three years of construction. The road was mainly funded with nonrecourse toll revenue bonds that are paid back with tolls and development fees rather than traditional tax funds. The project was the largest design/build contract in California history and the largest startup toll road financing in U.S. history.
“It’s hard to remember what driving in Orange County was like 25 years ago when the 73 Toll Road opened,” said San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency (SJHTCA) Chair and Mission Viejo Mayor Trish Kelley. “I know that — as a busy wife, mother, grandma, volunteer and mayor — having transportation choices to keep people and goods moving is extremely important. The 73 Toll Road adds to Orange County’s wonderful quality life that we all enjoy.”
In the 1970s, as more fuel-efficient vehicles emerged, state and federal gas tax revenues declined as the need for new roads increased. Orange County’s Toll Roads (State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261) were conceived as local solutions to the lack of transportation funding statewide. In the 1970s and 1980s, toll financing was viewed by local planners, business leaders and elected officials as the only way to build much-needed roads to fast-growing areas of Orange County.
“Our residents and businesses know that without The Toll Roads, Orange County would not be what it is today, drivers would experience severe traffic congestion on local highways and streets, diminishing our quality of life. The growth in usage and the recent milestone of opening our 2 millionth FasTrak account are evidence that The Toll Roads, TCA and FasTrak are part of Orange County’s success story. We look forward to continuing the story with many successes in our future,” said TCA CEO Samuel Johnson.
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.