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Transportation Corridor Agencies Formally Respond to Grand Jury Report

IRVINE, Calif. - September 25, 2020

The Transportation Corridor Agencies’ (TCA) two Boards of Directors have approved and submitted formal responses to a Grand Jury report published in June that highlighted important positives but contained unsubstantiated accusations and opinions and was fraught with inaccurate statements about the Agencies.

“While TCA appreciates the time the Grand Jury spent compiling its report, and understands that it may have been misled as the findings are not rooted in fact, the Boards’ submission of formal responses to the presiding judge provide clarity through the fog of misinformation that has been generated around the Agencies,” said TCA CEO Samuel Johnson. “TCA does not object to scrutiny; however broadcasting unsubstantiated allegations and misinformed opinions are a disservice to the public and erodes trust in the elected officials who work hard to better Orange County. Those who appreciate Orange County’s quality of life have an incredible story of self-reliance to tell, one that should rise above the noise.”

The report (The Transportation Corridor Agencies: Are They Taking Their Toll On Orange County?) outlines the Grand Jury’s opinions and was in response to the complaints of three citizens against TCA – the government agencies that financed, constructed and operate the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads, 420 lane miles of state highway that represent one of the most successful networks of toll roads in the country.

The Grand Jury initiated its investigation based on concerns regarding a South Orange County transportation study. That study was formally concluded in March when the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency’s (F/ETCA) Board of Directors unanimously adopted recommendations that an untolled arterial be further studied by the County of Orange. The recommendation and Board action received overwhelming public support.

TCA released initial responses to the Grand Jury report on June 30. In its formal response, TCA sets the record straight on misstatements related to the inaccurate portrayal of TCA’s finances; the measures TCA has taken to ensure transparency and public participation in its Board Committee meetings and Board of Directors meetings; and the role and oversight of TCA’s two Boards of Directors, among other misleading information.

“The Grand Jury, by its own admission, did not find any fiscal mismanagement or violation of law. We have participated in six independent reviews by certified public accounting firms and credit rating agencies, and don’t shy away from public scrutiny, however the continued expenditure of funds to chase misinformation has little value. We stand behind our sound policies and practices,” said F/ETCA Chairwoman and Irvine Mayor Christina Shea.

TCA further emphasized the partnerships it has cultivated with local agencies to increase mobility and enhance the quality of life for Orange County residents and all drivers by alleviating gridlock on highways. Projects like Los Patrones Parkway, the Oso Parkway Bridge and the 241/91 Express Connector are all made possible by TCA’s participation in collaborative partnerships.

“TCA will continue to partner with Caltrans, OCTA and the County of Orange to provide critically needed projects. We are able to bring these projects to fruition because of strong financial management and sound fiscal planning,” said Trish Kelley, Mayor Pro Tem of Mission Viejo and Chairwoman of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency (SJHTCA). “It is unfortunate to see concerted efforts by one of our member cities to create public antagonism toward the Agency and foster personal attacks toward our mayors, city councilmembers and county supervisors, who work hard to represent the people of Orange County.”

Of note, the Grand Jury recommended the Orange County Board of Supervisors conduct an investigation into its findings and implement remediation. In its own response, the Board of Supervisors called that recommendation unwarranted and unreasonable.

The formal responses are available here (PDF).

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.