Monthly Archives: October 2013
Drive The Toll Roads on Tuesdays and get special offers from area businesses and attractions as a token of our appreciation. Pick up a coupon every Tuesday at a mainline toll plaza (where you can still pay with FasTrak®) or use FasTrak to pay the first Tuesday of the month and a coupon will be emailed to you.
We started the Tuesday Coupon Program in 2010 and have given away deep discounts from Snow Valley, The Orange County Marketplace, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Sea World, Legoland, The Mission San Juan Capistrano, Papa John’s Pizza, Outback Steakhouse and many more.
Our Tuesday partners often give us free tickets and goodies to give away to our drivers via Facebook. Today, we announced that we are giving away free Anaheim Ducks tickets. Visit Facebook.com/TheTollRoads to “Like” the page and enter to win. Winners will be announced on Friday (November 1) on Facebook. Once you “Like” the page, giveaways will appear in your Facebook newsfeed.
Next month’s Tuesday partners are Wahoo’s Fish Tacos and the Discovery Science Center. Who do you think we should partner with next?
If you like driving The Toll Roads, imagine how much you’ll enjoy working for The Toll Roads.
We’re hiring a Senior Financial Analyst.
The Transportation Corridor Agencies, operator of California’s largest toll road network, is looking for an experienced senior financial analyst. Under the direction of the director of finance, this individual will perform a variety of financial, statistical, budgetary, operational and administrative analyses and duties.
The successful candidate must possess excellent analytical, conceptual, communication and interpersonal skills, with the ability to exercise sound judgment, think creatively, work independently, be very organized and multi-task well.
Requirements include a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting or a closely related field. Candidate must possess five years of professional financial analysis experience, including researching, analyzing, preparing and reviewing reports, including forecasts and projections of cash flow and financial statements, and recommending and implementing process improvements or actions on a variety of financial and administrative issues. Experience in public finance and debt management, principles of accounting, audit and financial reporting, knowledge of insurance and investment principles and practices are pluses.
We offer a challenging and dynamic work atmosphere along with a competitive compensation and benefit package. Deadline for submittal of resumes is November 8, 2013. For consideration, please email your resume and salary history (no phone calls please) to:
Click here to learn more about working for The Toll Roads and the Transportation Corridor Agenices.
As you know, FasTrak® celebrated its 20th birthday on Wednesday. There were plenty of well wishes and news coverage on the big day.
“California’s electronic toll brand FasTrak has its 20th birthday October 16. The first FasTrak tolls were taken mid-morning October 16, 1993 at the mainline Portola Parkway South plaza on the first short 3.2 miles of the 241 Foothill/Eastern Toll Road in Orange County south of Los Angeles. Also on off-ramps near Irvine and Lake Forest that began electronic toll collection at the same time, around 10am the same day…” Read the full article here.
“Brian Clifton, a retired Irvine police sergeant, was the first to get a pass and use it when the 241 Toll Road opened in Orange County, and he appeared with officials from the state’s Transportation Corridor Agencies at an event at the Tomato Springs Toll Plaza to mark the anniversary….”
“If you’re sitting on the 5 Freeway you’re wasting gas, time and not to mention the wear and tear on your car. All that stuff adds up and I don’t think people realize that,” Clifton said. “The cost is secondary to the time saved.” Click here to read the full interview.
Born and raised in Orange County, FasTrak® celebrated its 20th birthday today. Two decades ago, FasTrak was launched by the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) for use on the first 3.2-mile portion of the 241 Toll Road. FasTrak — California’s first and only electronic toll collection system — is now used by five different tolling agencies and more than 3.2 million drivers throughout the state on every tolled bridge, lane, road and structure. TCA alone has more than 863,000 transponders in circulation belonging to 427,505 FasTrak accounts.
As part of the birthday festivities, TCA honored Trabuco Canyon resident Brian Clifton, who has the distinction of being the first FasTrak customer. Clifton opened the very first FasTrak account in August 1993, two months before the road was opened and he continues to drive The Toll Roads on a daily basis.
“It’s been 20 years and my family and I still use FasTrak all the time,” said Brian Clifton. “For us, it has become a way of life and the time savings are critical for getting us to our jobs and the important events throughout Southern California. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without FasTrak and The Toll Roads.”
“When TCA opened the first FasTrak system in the state, our hope was to transform the lives of harried Southern California drivers by using cutting edge technology to save them their most precious commodity: time,” said Orange County Supervisor Patricia Bates, who served on the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency Board of Directors 20 years ago and is a current board member. “We are beyond pleased to see that drivers throughout California see the value of FasTrak, which has become an indispensable part of their daily lives.”
At its meeting last week, the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA) Board of Directors approved a plan to issue toll road refunding revenue bonds totaling $2.3 billion, which will allow for the refinancing of current bond obligations. The Board also approved amendments to a Cooperative Agreement between the F/ETCA and Caltrans. These actions w
ill allow the F/ETCA to restructure its debt and lower annual debt payments.
“Easing traffic congestion is our top priority. Our actions today will help us take the steps necessary to ensure that our finances will be sound and we can continue offering Southern California commuters a safe and reliable toll road choice that saves them valuable time,” said Lisa Bartlett, chairwoman of the F/ETCA and Dana Point’s mayor pro tem.
Neil Peterson, CEO of the Transportation Corridor Agencies, outlined three reasons for approving the Cooperative Agreement and refinancing during the meeting:
1) The refinancing will put the agency’s finances in order;
2) lowering annual debt payments will provide cash flow for important projects such as the State Route 241 to 91 Express Lanes direct connector; and
3) lower payments will provide for pricing flexibility to allow the agency to partner with regional transportation organizations to improve mobility through increasing use of the toll road system.
“The more people who choose to drive on The Toll Roads, means less congestion on free alternatives. Less congestion improves mobility and traffic circulation for everybody in the region,” said Peterson. “The refinancing plan is similar to refinancing your home mortgage. The current market situation will allow us to lower our annual debt service growth rate, lower annual payments and reduce the maximum annual payment.”
A refinancing plan was approved in June, but it was not executed because negotiations on the ultimate language in the Cooperative Agreement was not finalized until last week. The Cooperative Agreement amendment that will allow the F/ETCA to collect tolls until 2053 is required to issue the refinance bonds. Since June, interest rates have risen to a level that would not allow the agency to improve its finances. In the past few weeks, interest rates have fallen. That — coupled with some modifications to the original plan — makes refinancing economically prudent.
“Today’s decision is good news for business. It is important to an efficient and effective movement of people and goods that California’s transportation systems are fiscally sound. With a region’s mobility comes a more predictable economic recovery,” said Lucy Dunn, president and CEO of the Orange County Business Council.
One important aspect of TCA’s refinancing program is the use of short-term, fixed-rate Rate Reset Bonds (RRBs), which gives the agency maximum flexibility as interest rates change. RRBs have been used by many other issuers, including the State of California, the University of California and, recently, Grand Parkway toll road in Texas. The refinancing will lower the annual debt growth rate to 3.6 to 3.75 percent instead of the current 4.4 percent rate on existing debt.
The Board’s actions come as ridership is increasing on the routes operated by the F/ETCA – State Routes 133, 241 and 261. For the first three months in the fiscal year that began in June, traffic has increased two percent compared to the similar period in 2012 and revenue is up by more than seven percent.
Ridership is beginning to grow after U.S. toll roads saw a significant decline in traffic because of the Great Recession.
“Subject to market conditions and interest rates, the plan is to sell the bonds before Thanksgiving and close the transaction in early December,” said Chief Financial Officer Amy Potter.
The Toll Roads Give Back to the Community with Environmental and Educational Programs Geared Towards Protecting the Environment
With the 20 year anniversary of The Transportation Corridor Agencies’ (TCA) launch of FasTrak® just around the corner, TCA recognizes a history of comprehensive efforts and commitment to environmental conservation and education. The various award-winning environmental and educational programs have contributed to the thousands of acres of permanently conserved lands throughout Orange County, enhanced wildlife connectivity, improved air quality, and introduced the community and Orange County youth to prehistoric Orange County. A sampling of TCA programs include:
Native Habitat Program – 22 Years: TCA is a major contributor to the Central/Coastal Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP) and has set aside and protected 37,000 acres of prime habitat in Orange County for 42 individual species including 18,831 acres of coastal sage scrub habitat, 7,290 acres of chaparral, 6,104 acres of grasslands, 1,818 acres of riparian and significant portions of eight other habitat types. About 318 acres of land owned by TCA are included within the reserve. Approximately 381 California gnatcatchers and 674 cactus wren sightings have occurred within the reserve system.
Improved Air Quality – 20 Years: The Toll Roads are designed to maintain “free flow” travel conditions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions are highest along heavily congested highways, such as Interstate 5 or the 91 freeway, and contribute to respiratory problems such as asthma. In addition to the health benefits of The Toll Roads, the National Motorists Association reports that less fuel is consumed in free-flowing conditions by driving at steady speeds and avoiding complete stops. And, less fuel used means fewer emissions released into our environment and cleaner air.
The Spring Tours – 13 Years: Each spring, TCA has hosted free guided hikes through more than 2,100 acres of open space that were protected with construction of the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads. More than 1,400 people have enjoyed the tour series since the program began, which teaches participants how native plant communities were carefully restored to protect threatened species and how these conservation areas are maintained to protect wildlife and the environment for future generations. The tours are led by an ornithologist and the restoration ecologist and biologist who has spent the last two decades restoring these sites to their native habitat and contributing to The Toll Roads’ award-winning environmental programs.
Fossils in Your Backyard – 11 Years: Paleontologists and archaeologists spent thousands of hours monitoring and collecting fossils spanning 90 million years — from the nearly complete skeleton of a baleen whale to jawbone fragments of what is believed to be California’s first dinosaur-era mammal. TCA has taken great care to not only preserve these important links to our prehistoric past, but to ensure that they are shared with the public. TCA provides funding for curation and exhibition and has hired paleontologists to properly prepare, document and store the fossils.
Additionally, TCA partnered with LSA Associates to launch Fossils in Your Backyard, a free educational program for local school children. Taught by a professional paleontologist, the program has given more than 50,000 children a glimpse of what life was like in prehistoric Orange County through a hands-on look at fossils and artifacts that were discovered when The Toll Roads were built.
This weekend and next, take The Toll Roads to visit the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 and XPO at the Orange County Great Park.
This is the first time in its 11-year history that the competition is being held outside of Washington, D.C.
The event is free and open to the public from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily:
- Oct. 3 – Oct. 6 (Thursday – Sunday)
- Oct. 10 – Oct. 13 (Thursday – Sunday)
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges 20 collegiate teams from across the nation and around the world to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.
The XPO is a clean, renewable and efficient energy exposition featuring visionary and innovative companies, products and educational opportunities. Through fun, interactive exhibits and activities, the XPO will provide visitors with information about the broad spectrum of energy efficiency in home design, transportation, consumer products, food production and education.
During the two weekends, visitors will have the opportunity to tour the houses, gather ideas to use in their own homes and learn how energy-saving features can help save money.
For more information about the Solar Decathlon 2013, visit solardecathlon.gov.
To get to the Solar Decathlon 2013 using The Toll Roads:
- Take the 133 Toll Road
- Exit at Irvine Boulevard
- Travel west on Irvine Boulevard
- Turn south (left) onto Sand Canyon
- Turn east (left) onto Trabuco Road and follow to event parking