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Transportation Corridor Agencies June Board Meeting Highlights

Highlights from the June 11 Joint San Joaquin Hills and Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agencies Board Meeting are provided below.

IRVINE, Calif. - June 12, 2020

TCA Boards Approve Conservative Fiscal Year 2021 Budget

The San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency (SJHTCA) and Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA) Boards of Directors unanimously approved a Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget. The approved budget of 289.5 million – $135 million for SJHTCA and $154.5 million for F/ETCA – reflects the unknown duration and impacts of COVID-19 yet advances Board priorities. The budget represents a 51 percent reduction in operating and capital expenses compared to the FY20 budget.

Efforts over the last few years to manage debt, reduce costs and increase ridership have positioned the Agencies well to deal with the economic challenges of COVID-19. The approved budget will allow the Agencies to meet important financial obligations as well as reduce overall expenses and continue to advance priority projects including the completion of Oso Parkway Bridge and completing final design of the 241/91 Express Connector Project.

Staff will continue to closely monitor progress as the economy recovers and customers return to The Toll Roads and make additional budget recommendations to the Boards if needed.

Fiscal Responsibility, Transparency Enhanced with Adopted Debt Management Policy

Both Boards approved an updated debt management policy that memorializes current practices and provides additional transparency and guidance for staff and future Boards. In December 2019, the directors approved debt management policies that meet state guidelines. Staff worked with the Boards to explore expanded language to further strengthen the policy and incorporate best practice guidelines issued by the Government Finance Officers Association and the California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission. The enhancements to TCA’s debt management policy further demonstrates the Boards’ continued focus on the strong fiscal management that has provided continual credit rating upgrades and positioned the Agencies to weather the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Important 241/91 Express Connector Advances

241/91 Express ConnectorThe F/ETCA board approved an amendment to the final design contract for the 241/91 Express Connector Project to allow the final design phase to be restarted. With this restart of final design, the project will be ready to begin construction in 2023 and the Express Connector would be open to traffic in 2025.  This action reflects the commitments described in the 2019 Term Sheet, which was approved in the fall of 2019 by each of the project partners including F/ETCA, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and the Riverside Transportation Commission (RCTC).

Motorists who travel the 241 Toll Road and State Route 91 will benefit from a new alternative which will provide a congestion free commute. Once constructed, the project will provide direct access between the 241 Toll Road and the 91 Express Lanes. The project will also reduce traffic congestion on State Route 91’s general purpose lanes by improving traffic flow.

COVID-19 Communications Plan Reflects Social Awareness and Promotes Goodwill

Staff provided the Boards with an update on the work done to date in support of the Agencies' COVID-19 Communications Plan. The plan was developed and implemented by TCA staff with minimal costs and focused on the Agencies’ communications activities during and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting operating environment.

Tactics include sharing helpful COVID-19 resources from others, highlighting positive stories from TCA member cities, showing appreciation and support for essential business and frontline teams and helping educators and parents by providing environmental curriculum, educational resources and activities such as coloring pages and word searches.

The plan’s resourceful approaches and tactics convey that, as a government agency, the health and safety of the public are important to TCA, and The Toll Roads will be here when it is time to get back on the road.