Transportation Corridor Agencies May 2023 Board Meeting Highlights
Highlights from the Joint San Joaquin Hills and Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agencies May 11 Board Meeting
Irvine, Calif. - May 11, 2023
TCA Boards Approve Continuation of Environmental Support Services
At their May 11 meeting, the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency (SJHTCA) and the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA) Boards of Directors unanimously approved the continuation of service with four firms to help ensure the nearly 2,100 acres of TCA-owned mitigation lands are permanently managed to maintain existing wildlife and habitat values.
The Agencies agreed to contracts with Land IQ, LLC. (Land IQ), Psomas, RECON Environmental, Inc. (RECON) and LSA Associates to assist in TCA’s requirement to continue compliance with the various resource agencies’ permits terms and conditions, and/or land ownership responsibilities.
Land IQ and Psomas will continue to monitor, assess and report on the management of the mitigation sites on an on-call basis as part of TCA’s requirement to continue compliance with the various resource agencies’ permits, terms and conditions, and/or land ownership responsibilities.
RECON will continue to complete, in coordination with Land IQ and Psomas, various tasks associated with mitigation lands management along the roadway slopes, medians, plaza areas and at off-site mitigation areas.
LSA Associates will continue to provide environmental services, including reestablishing the award-winning Fossils in Your Backyard program to provide in-class presentations at local Orange County schools about fossils and artifacts discovered during construction of The Toll Roads, as well as provide support at TCA-sponsored community events by providing fossil displays.
San Joaquin Hills Board Approves Environmental Services Support for Austin Sand Filter Retrofit Project
The SJHTCA Board of Directors unanimously approved a task order for Michael Baker International, Inc., to provide environmental planning services for the Austin Sand Filter Retrofit Project.
The Austin Sand Filter, a water treatment device located in Newport Beach, is owned and operated by SJHTCA. Its purpose is to work in conjunction with an adjacent wetland to drain and filter stormwater runoff from the impervious roadway added because of the Agency’s realignment of the road now known as Bonita Canyon Drive, as well as the adjacent residential area per the Runoff Management Plan (RMP) for the Ford Road Realignment Project.
Due to excess urban runoff flows from the surrounding development area, the Austin Sand Filter is continually clogged with sediment, impacting its ability to function properly.
Once Michael Baker International, Inc., completes the environmental document, technical studies and permits, the Agency will issue a procurement to implement proposed corrective measures, including the installation of a debris rack in the wetland, replacement and upgrade of the perforated pipes and filter media to resume proper function.
Open Market Bond Buyback Program Sees Success
As part of a report given by Interim CEO Valarie McFall, TCA CFO Amy Potter reported the Agencies accomplished the early paydown of $150.8 million in bond principal and saved the Agencies $150 million in interest, through the Open Market Bond Buyback program.
The program uses unrestricted cash to purchase and retire F/ETCA and SJHTCA bonds in the open market. The program’s benefits are that TCA can purchase bonds at attractive prices and pay off those bonds before the call date, realizing immediate savings.
Sound Fiscal Practices Reduce TCA Debt by $1.275 Billion
SJHTCA Chair Will O’Neill reported the Agencies have reduced their bond debt since 2019 through bond refinancings, early paydowns and through open market buybacks, reducing debt by $1.275 billion:
- Recent bond refundings replaced higher interest rate bonds with lower interest rate bonds, saving $700 million, without extending bond maturity dates
- In July 2022, TCA executed an early paydown of $125 million of bond principal, saving $180 million in interest
- TCA accomplished the early paydown of $150.8 million in bond principal and saved the Agencies $150 million in interest, through the Open Market Bond Buyback program.
By 2030, the Agencies plan to pay down another $980 million of bonds early, saving an additional $860 million in interest. This future debt reduction, when combined with the current reductions of $1.275 million, will collectively reduce debt by $3.1 billion by 2030.
TCA Hires New Chief External Affairs Officer
Newly hired Chief External Affairs Officer Michele Miller was introduced at the May 11 meeting.
Miller brings more than 30 years of experience in public and media relations, community outreach, government affairs and management to TCA in a career that has included a previous stint as the Agencies’ Public Affairs Officer from 1995 to 2000, with roles at the Santa Margarita Water District and the office of former Orange County Third District Supervisor Gaddi Vasquez.
She began her role at TCA in April, spent nearly a decade at the Irvine-based office of TRC Companies, Inc., where she led a team of public outreach professionals on developing and implementing outreach campaigns to support public agencies, including OCTA, RCTC, Orange County Public Works, Caltrans and numerous cities throughout the state.