About Us > Background & History

Background & History

Why Toll Roads?

Studies conducted during the 1970s identified that several new roads were needed to serve Orange County's booming population. Roughly sketched into county road plans by 1981, the future San Joaquin Hills, Foothill and Eastern corridors were so-named because road planners weren't sure if they would be highways or freeways. No one initially envisioned them as toll roads.

Scarce Funding

But the money to build these new roads was nowhere in sight. Compact, fuel-efficient vehicles were popular, gas purchases plummeted and, as a result, revenue from gas taxes declined as statewide maintenance needs for aging highways grew. Local officials dug in their own backyard for seed money that would demonstrate their commitment to building these roads. Then, they assumed, state or federal money would flow and the roads would be built.

Toll Road Background & History

The idea of charging tolls as a way to finance the proposed roads first surfaced in 1984, but no real decision was made until public joint-powers agencies were formed to manage financing, construction and operations of the roads. In 1986, two agencies were born - the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) and the San Joaquin Hills Transportation
Corridor Agency.

Turning to Tolls

Government transportation dollars were still scarce. It became apparent that the new roadways had to be built as tollways or they wouldn't be built at all - a disastrous prospect given the county's explosive growth. In 1987, Senate Bill 1413 passed, giving the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) the authority to construct the new roads as toll facilities and issue bonds backed by future toll revenues and development impact fees.

Public Infrastructure, Private Investment

The San Joaquin Hills (SR 73), Foothill (SR 241) and Eastern (SRs 241/261/133) Toll Roads were the first public highways to be constructed in Orange County since 1987 when the Costa Mesa (SR 55) Freeway was extended by four miles. Remarkably, The Toll Roads - which are owned and maintained by the state of California -- were built with virtually no taxpayer dollars.

Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) is funded by the sale of bonds to both private individuals and institutional investors. The bonds can only be repaid by future tolls and development fees. Since the bonds are not backed by the government, taxpayers are not responsible for repaying the debt if future toll revenues fall short. Today, toll and development impact fee revenue go toward retiring the construction debt, funding additional improvements and covering costs of operating
The Toll Roads.

Commitment to the Future

As the region's population increases and the economy grows, TCA works toward ensuring that The Toll Roads remain valuable, congestion-free alternatives to local freeways.

TCA is committed to excellent customer service, improving mobility and preserving our quality of life now and in
the future.