Fiscal Year 2018 Budgets for OC Toll Roads Approved After Year of Consistent Revenue Growth

IRVINE, Calif. - June 12, 2017

In FY17, year-over-year transactional toll revenue is projected to grow by over 7 percent and 6 percent for the Foothill/Eastern and San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agencies, respectively

The Agencies’ combined budgets totaling $360.3 million include funding for debt service, toll collection, customer service and capital project planning, engineering and construction

Following a year of increased revenue and implementation of programs to enhance customer service, the Boards of Directors of the Foothill/Eastern and San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) approved combined budgets totaling $360.3 million to fund debt service, operations, customer service, administration, planning, engineering and construction for Orange County’s Toll Road system.

In FY17, transactions recorded on the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads are expected to surpass the highest volumes recorded prior to the Great Recession. In May, the bond ratings for the 73 Toll Road were upgraded by S & P Global Ratings due to continued transaction and revenue growth.

Customer service improvements that were implemented in FY17 to support The Toll Roads’ nearly one million accountholders and more than 330,000 daily toll transactions included a new app that allows customers to pay tolls and manage their accounts from their handheld devices, a new contractor to provide customer service staffing and activities and the addition of Saturday hours for the Customer Service Call Center.

“The increase in traffic and revenue for The Toll Roads is a sign of a healthy economy and a valuable service,” said Ed Sachs, Chair of the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency.  “The growth in revenue enables us to maintain a strong financial position and make investments in The Toll Roads to give drivers more options for traffic relief.”

The FY18 budgets include funding for the following capital project and customer service initiatives:

241/91 Express Connector Project ($13.0 million)
Final design is currently underway for this project that consists of a tolled connector between the median of the 91 Express Lanes and the median of the 241 Toll Road. The Supplemental EIR/EIS is scheduled to be final by the end of 2017 with anticipation of soliciting construction bids at the end of FY18.

Oso Parkway Bridge Project ($25.2 million)
In FY18, construction of the Oso Bridge Project will begin.  The project involves the construction of a bridge structure to allow traffic from the new Los Patrones Parkway to safely pass under Oso Parkway to access the 241 Toll Road near Coto de Caza. The construction contract will be administered by the County of Orange. Construction is slated to begin in fall 2017 and will be completed over a 24-month construction period.

South County Mobility Improvement Planning ($28.0 million)
In FY18, community outreach to identify and address public and stakeholder interest to identify traffic relief for South Orange County will continue. The formal state and federal environmental process will begin, which includes biological, traffic and geological technical studies that will be included in the Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Impact Statement.

Customer Service Center Back Office System Replacement Project ($2.8 million)
TCA has issued a Request for Proposals for a new system that will address the Agencies’ current and future needs. The amount budgeted will cover the cost of developing and implementing the new system.

Signage Upgrade ($6.0 million)
In FY18, per Federal Highway Administration standards for toll road signage, upgraded signs will be installed incorporating a purple banner across the top of the sign indicating that State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261 are tolled roads.  Additional signs with payment information will also be posted. In all, 458 signs will be modified or replaced as part of this project prior to, or along the 51-Mile Toll Road system.

The FY18 budgets include a 4.8 percent and 5.5 percent increase in transactional toll revenue for the Foothill/Eastern and San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agencies respectively due to projected growth in transactions and a 2 percent toll increase for non-FasTrak® transactions at all toll points.  FasTrak tolls are $1 less than non-FasTrak tolls at all toll points.  FasTrak is the transponder-based electronic toll collection system that can be used on all tolled bridges, lanes and roads in California.  Non-FasTrak toll payment options include license-plate-based ExpressAccounts® and online One-Time-Toll®. ExpressAccount and One-Time-Toll payment are only available on the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads.  Toll rate adjustments will go into effect at 12:00 a.m. on Friday, July 1, 2017 and range from $0.03 to $0.16 depending on location.

“The Agencies maintain bond indenture reserves of over $500 million and expect to fill the last remaining San Joaquin Hills requirement in FY18,” said Amy Potter, Chief Financial Officer for TCA.

TCA is comprised of two joint powers authorities created to plan, finance, construct and operate Orange County’s Toll Road network – the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads.  The Toll Roads have been providing a choice for drivers for more than 20 years and the tolls collected are used primarily to pay bonds issued to fund construction. The refinancing of TCA’s debt in 2013 and 2014 took advantage of historically low interest rates and established debt structures that align with The Toll Roads’ historical transaction and revenue growth -- including the dip in traffic that took place during the recent recession. Since then, transactions and revenue have exceeded projections and reserves have grown providing stability to weather future economic downturns and support financing of TCA’s Capital Improvement Program.

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