Monthly Archives: December 2013

2014 ROSE PARADE FLOAT ENTRY

125TH_RP_HONDA_208xWatching the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade tomorrow?  If so, keep an eye out for a float sponsored by DigAlert encouraging property owners to use DigAlert’s free underground service before digging so that buried utilities can be identified and do-it-yourself mishaps can be avoided.

This is the first Rose Parade float for DigAlert.  It is covered with several types of seeds, grasses and petals, 9,000 roses, 3,000 Bombay dendrobium orchids and a slew of other natural materials.

77-underground-service-alert-2014Visit DigAlert’s Facebook page to view float photos and get the latest news from parade central.

The Toll Roads use DigAlert (also known as Underground Service Alert of Southern California) every day to protect the extensive fiber-optic cabling and utility systems that help manage our 51 miles of roadway.  Dozens of DigAlerts for construction projects on and near The Toll Roads are received and reviewed by our engineers every month to prevent damage and we use the DigAlert system to be informed about construction projects that may affect our drivers’ trips on The Toll Roads.

1503883_558748330882139_1835351988_nDigAlert has been providing its free public service to Southern California since 1976 and is funded by more than 900 Southern California utilities. Before you dig anywhere contact DigAlert at http://www.digalert.org or call 811.

Look for the DigAlert float in the Rose Parade and have a safe and happy New Year!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE TOLL ROADS

The Toll Roads Employees Help Santa

Holiday Gifts Thomas HouseFor the seventeenth year in a row, The Toll Roads’ employees have helped Santa get presents to families at the Thomas House Family Shelter.  Located in Garden Grove, Thomas House provides a safe, supportive environment and the resources necessary for homeless families with children to remain together while empowering them to become independent and self-sufficient.

Through The Toll Roads’ Santa’s Helpers Program, employees select a Thomas House resident to shop for based on that person’s wish list.  Employees shop during their off hours using their own money and, in total, usually purchase gifts for 40 to 60 adults and 15 to 20 children.

“This year, I was a Santa’s Helper for a one year old who wanted anything Disney, so I bought a large stuffed Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse sippy cup and fuzzy slippers.  I look forward each year to buying a gift for a child who is far less fortunate than my own.  When wrapping the gift, I think of the smile on his or her face and the excitement they must feel when opening what I wrapped,” said The Toll Roads employee Bill.

Holiday Gifts Thomas House Gift Tag“My family has participated in the Santa’s Helper Program for over six years now.  The reward is not only the spirit of giving, but having my grandchildren contribute in, both, the selection of the gift and a contribution of a few coins from their own savings.  It’s everyone working together to bring joy,” said The Toll Roads employee Tom.

“I picked a little girl who is four years old and loves Minnie Mouse.  She had a Minnie Mouse tea set and anything Minnie Mouse on her wish list.  I purchased the tea set and a plush Minnie dressed in pink. I was drawn to this little girl because I recently got a new puppy named Mini!” said The Toll Roads employee Linda.

Each year the Santa’s Helpers Program is spearheaded by The Toll Roads employee Dale.  All of Santa’s Helpers count on her to be the lead elf and are thankful for the work she does to get gifts and holiday cheer to those in need.

FOOTHILL/EASTERN TRANSPORTATION CORRIDOR AGENCY REFINANCES $2.3 BILLION IN BONDS

The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA) has successfully refinanced $2.3 billion in outstanding debt that was originally issued in 1999.

“This is great news for Southern California drivers,” said Lisa Bartlett, F/ETCA Chairwoman and Mayor for the City of Dana Point.  “The refinancing enhances the agency’s financial position so that we can concentrate on providing and improving mobility.  We’ve lowered annual debt payments, which will provide pricing flexibility and cash flow for important projects.”

TCA Spring 2011The refinancing extends F/ETCA debt from 2040 to 2053, lowers annual payments through 2040 and reduces maximum annual debt payment by 24 percent.  The bonds are being structured with various call dates and will be eligible for early redemption with excess revenue if the agency’s Board of Directors chooses to do so, thereby shortening the final maturity date and eliminating the need to make additional interest payments.

“The bond refinancing reduces debt payments by $975 million between now and 2040 and will create a flexible financing structure.  The restructuring of the debt keeps the agency in a very strong financial position and allows The Tolls Roads to continue to provide a valuable choice for Orange County residents and commuters,” said Patricia Bates, F/ETCA Vice Chairwoman and Orange County Fifth District Supervisor.

Traffic and revenue on the 36-mile toll road network has been growing with Orange County’s regional economic recovery.  For the first five months of the fiscal year (July thru December), traffic has increased two percent compared to the similar period in 2012 and revenue is up seven percent.

“The restructuring brings the agency’s debt in line with current revenue projections and strengthens our financial outlook,” said Amy Potter, CFO of the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA).  “The Board of Directors had authorized up to a 6.5 percent interest rate for the bonds, and the final result was 6.06 percent.  The annual growth rate for the bonds has been reduced from 4.2 percent to 3.75 percent and the peak debt service has been reduced by $74 million.”

TCA Spring 2011In October, the F/ETCA Board of Directors approved the refinancing of its outstanding bonds and amendments to a cooperative agreement between the F/ETCA and Caltrans that allows tolls to be collected through 2053.  The following month, the F/ETCA received investment grade ratings from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings on its update to the proposed refinancing of the 1999 bonds.  With two ratings, the agency was able to move forward with the refinancing.

Standard and Poor’s noted that revenues have responded well to recent toll increases, that the willingness to increase tolls by management is a positive credit factor and that the restructuring plan reduces maximum annual debt service by $30 million (actual reduction is $72 million).  Fitch Ratings acknowledged that extending the debt by 13 years provides a more stable financial profile and that a history of pro-active decisions by management to raise rates is a credit strength.

“The 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads provide a valuable link to the population centers in the Southern California region – which is the second largest metropolitan area in the country.  It’s a link to a burgeoning economic and employment center that is located in Orange County,” said Neil Peterson, TCA’s CEO.  “We are providing a valuable and affordable service to the people who are coming in and out of Orange County to get to those jobs.  Our board has a 13-year history of stepping up to the plate and meeting their financial obligations. Our toll revenues and our transactions have recovered strongly from The Great Recession and in the last three years have seen a steady increase. The refinancing provides cash flow savings to us between now and 2040, reduces the increase of our debt service requirements, lowers our maximum annual debt service, allows us a greater margin to exceed our coverage requirements of net toll revenues going forward.”

“The experience that we offer our customers is a choice of a predictable trip that saves time and stress,” said Peterson.  “The F/ETCA Board of Directors, finance team and staff are commended for the work they have put into making this refinancing a reality.”

FASTRAK TRANSPONDERS NOW AVAILABLE AT ALBERTSONS

The Toll Roads have teamed up with Albertsons to make opening a FasTrak® account even more convenient and accessible for Southern California drivers. FasTrak transponders are now available at 30 of Albertsons’ Orange County retail locations and come with up to $9 in free tolls.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 6.23.54 PMCustomers can open a new FasTrak account with The Toll Roads and get a transponder at participating Albertsons Orange County stores for $36.  Once the transponder is activated on thetollroads.com, $40 in prepaid tolls will be automatically credited to the account. For a limited time, customers will receive an additional $5 in free tolls, amounting to a total of $45 in tolls in their new FasTrak account. As an added bonus, customers who choose to replenish their new FasTrak account using electronic check will be credited a total of $50 in tolls through the holiday season. The promotion is valid through January 14, 2014.

Each new FasTrak transponder package comes with:

  • One FasTrak transponder from The Toll Roads
  • Information booklet containing
    • Registration instructions for establishing an account
    • FasTrak License Agreement
    • The Toll Roads Privacy Policy
    • Map of The Toll Roads
    • Information about The Toll Roads App
    • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Mounting strips

“TCA is the creator of FasTrak and was the first toll authority in California to sell transponders in retail stores.  The retail program has proven successful and I am thrilled that we are expanding the program to include Albertsons Orange County stores,” said Neil Peterson, CEO of TCA, the public agencies responsible for operating The Toll Roads. “The stature of the Albertsons name will — without a doubt — enable us to expand our reach to potential new customers.”

FasTrak transponders are distributed at Albertsons’ service desk. See Albertsons cashier for information on the holiday promotion.