The Boards of Directors of the Foothill/Eastern and San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) have appointed Michael Kraman as acting chief executive officer of the agencies. Kraman joined TCA as chief engineer in May 2012 and has a long history in the private sector of leading teams that delivered significant capital projects.
“Mike Kraman is committed to accomplishing TCA’s goals in a financially responsible manner,” said Lisa Bartlett, Chairwoman of the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency. “He is the right person to lead the agencies as we work toward the May removal of cash toll collection from the roadways and educate drivers about the new ways to pay tolls without stopping.”
During his 30-year career, Kraman has developed complex transportation infrastructure projects including state highways, interchanges, rail and port facilities. As TCA’s chief engineer, Kraman has been charged with the oversight of environmental planning, engineering design, construction and contracting activities for California’s largest network of toll roads. As a member of the agencies’ executive team, he has been involved in the strategic outlook and financing for the system, as well as its daily operations.
Prior to joining TCA, Kraman served as the Southern California District Leader for HNTB Corporation – a national infrastructure solutions firm serving public and private owners and construction contractors — where he was responsible for operations in Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego. He served as the design manager for the $1 billion 405 Sepulveda Pass Widening design-build project in West Los Angeles which included its week-long full freeway closure event coined “Carmaggedon” that took place in July 2011.
Kraman earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the United States Coast Guard Academy and a master of science in civil engineering degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. He is a registered professional engineer in California and numerous other states.
“I am honored to be given the opportunity to lead TCA during this important time, when we are seeing both traffic and revenue grow on the 51-mile toll road network,” said Kraman. “The agencies’ staff is experienced, long-tenured, dedicated and focused on our core mission of improving mobility in Southern California without the use of taxpayer dollars.”
Every journey starts with a single step and mine ended 1,200 miles later, when I moved my home base from Seattle to Orange County to become chief executive officer of The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA).
I joined TCA five months ago for the unique opportunity to collaborate with two boards of directors comprised entirely of elected officials and because I see The Toll Roads as a critical – but often overlooked and undervalued – lifeline for regional mobility in Southern California that gives drivers an express choice.
State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261 are not just Orange County roads, they are Southern California roads that are critical for people traveling to and from Los Angeles, San Diego and the Inland Empire. Roughly 80 percent of the trips that pass through our Windy Ridge Mainline Toll Plaza are made by people who reside outside of Orange County and 40 percent of TCA FasTrak® accounts belong to out-of-county drivers.
TCA’s history is unique, inspired and full of firsts. Our public joint powers agencies were formed in 1986 to plan, finance, construct and operate The Toll Roads – 51 miles of roadway representing the largest network of toll roads in the state. Built with virtually no taxpayer dollars, The Toll Roads were funded through the sale of bonds to private and institutional investors, and supplemented with development impact fees. The bonds can only be repaid with tolls and development impact fees and since the bonds are not backed by the government, taxpayers will never be liable for repaying the debt. We are responsible borrowers who have never missed a bond payment and have always had fully-funded debt service reserves.
Going forward, we will focus on improving our customer service; focusing on our customers who make a choice every time they drive The Toll Roads. We will listen and do everything we can to attract more drivers to The Toll Roads because it is better for everyone on every road.
We will improve connectivity. Direct connections from the 241 Toll Road to the 91 Express Lanes and from the median of the 405 freeway to the 73 Toll Road will further advance regional mobility and benefit all residents and commuters.
We will work diligently to find an alternative to Interstate 5 going south through South Orange County. Today’s congestion in South Orange County is bad enough. It will get worse with the addition of 55,000 new residents in the Rancho Mission Viejo development. We need to find solutions that all interested parties can support.
And, finally, in 2014 we will eliminate the need to stop and pay at toll booths. We will give all drivers the experience of non-stop driving, leading to more time savings and more predictability.
In my first 100 days, I met with employees, board members, supporters, opponents, the media and our customers. I will continue listening, meeting, seeking, working, exploring, planning, learning and mapping out the future of TCA and The Toll Roads. I hope that you’ll join me on the ride. Our goal: to relieve traffic in both the short term and long term.