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Your Smooth Ride to Summer Fun

For many of us, Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of summer; however, the official start is June 21…just a couple days away!

On the bright side, things always look sunny on The Toll Roads of Orange County. The 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads make getting around Orange County easy for locals and out-of-town visitors. Here’s a look at four summer destinations easily accessible via The Toll Roads:

  1. Get artsy with Laguna Beach’s arts and culture

    The 73 and 133 Toll Roads offer easy access to Laguna Beach, Orange County’s classic beach town. Visitors can enjoy the creativity and artistry of annual art shows such as the upcoming Sawdust Art Festival and Laguna Art-A-Fair beginning June 29. And, each evening from July 7 – Sept. 1, the Festival of Arts Pageant of the Masters faithfully recreates classic and contemporary works of art into living pictures that feature real people. BONUS: FasTrak® and ExpressAccount® members who are opted in to the Rewards program and who drive at least once in June will be rewarded with 25 percent off Pageant of the Masters tickets and 2-for-1 admission to the Festival of Arts. Click here, to opt-in.

  2. Pack a picnic and head to Irvine Regional Park

    Take the 241 or 261 Toll Roads for easy access to the 491-acre Irvine Regional Park, where families have picnicked beneath the groves of oak and sycamore trees for more than 100 years. The OC Zoo is within the park boundaries and there are pony rides and the Irvine Regional Park Railroad, too. For more summer fun, check out the park’s free summer concerts (July 19 and July 26) and outdoor movies (July 27 and Aug. 3).

  3. “Free Your Inner Farmer” at the Orange County Fair

    From south Orange County, the 73 Toll Road to the 55 Freeway is the best way to get to the OC Fair. Visit the fairgrounds from July 13 to Aug. 12 for delicious food, carnival rides, concerts, farm animals, arts and crafts, monster trucks and more. BONUS: FasTrak and ExpressAccount members can receive $2 off admission to the OC Fair by opting in to receive promotions from The Toll Roads Rewards program. Click here to learn more.

  4. Rock out at Irvine concerts

    Take the 241 and/or 133 Toll Roads to the Orange County Great Park for a concert at the new Five Point Amphitheatre. More than just home to the Big Orange Balloon, the outdoor venue debuts with its first full season of summer shows under the stars, featuring top bands and artists from a variety of genres; plus food and drink options.
    OC-Map

Travel
If your summer plans take you further north, be sure to pack your FasTrak transponder. FasTrak is used to pay tolls on all of California’s tolled roads, lanes and bridges. You can use it on the 10 and 110 Express Lanes to access L.A. Live, California Science Center or Dodger Stadium.

 

And be sure to never miss one of Shohei Ohtani’s pitches. Drive the 241 Toll Road to bypass traffic on the 5 and 55 Freeways to catch a game at Angel Stadium. Go Halos!

Angels-Car

ICYMI: TCA in the News

In case you missed it, here is some recent news reports about The Toll Roads:

What to say when you hear nobody drives The Toll Roads? Fake news! The Orange County Register highlights The Toll Roads’ record breaking year with ridership increasing nearly 20 percent during the last three years. Traffic may be bad on OC’s freeways, but more than 300,000 daily drivers are finding relief on the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads.Tolls

Wondering where the tolls you pay go? Paying off construction debt. Because of the strong ridership and revenue growth, the Transportation Corridor Agencies, the government agency overseeing operations of Orange County’s 51-miles of Toll Roads, are on solid financial ground.

So much so, that the Orange County Business Journal is calling it a Toll Road Turnaround. OCBJ lists the top 10 largest issuers of municipal debt in Orange County – the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency, responsible for the 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads, and the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency, responsible for the 73 Toll Road – ranked the top two. The key takeaway? “The result is that The Toll Roads handily meet debt their debt obligations. Plus, the TCA has more than $1 billion in reserves in case of shortfalls,” reports OCBJ.

TCA’s Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report highlights record-setting days on The Toll Roads when ridership reached numbers never-before-seen in TCA’s 25-year history. For example, what typically falls in the middle of June? Celebrating Dads and Grads!

Father's Day WeekendLast year, Saturday, June 17, was a record high Saturday with 243,615 transactions and Monday, June 19, was a record high Monday with 306,382 transactions. Combined, that’s more than 12 times the amount of daily Disneyland visitors!

Check out more fun facts about ridership by viewing our In The Driver’s Seat information series.

“More people are using Orange County’s Toll Roads every day. The value our roads as an alternative to Orange County’s congested freeways is underscored by how many trips were taken and accounts opened in Fiscal Year 2017,” said Mike Kraman, TCA’s CEO. “The growth in revenue is a sign of a healthy economy and allows us to maintain a strong financial position and continue to invest in The Toll Roads.”

Time: The Perfect Valentine From Start to Finish

If only there were more hours in the day – to spend time with family, read a book, cook a meal, binge watch TV or, better yet, catch some ZZZzzs. It’s too bad, we’re spending more time behind the wheel instead of doing what we want.

Mom Baby Time

According to the Global Traffic Scorecard, an annual study by transportation analytics company Inrix, in 2017, Southern California commuters experienced the most gridlock in the world. The. World.

Thankfully, there is the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads as an option to avoid Orange County’s congested freeways. Not just for commuters, The Toll Roads are also great for day trips and weekend getaways.

Smiles Per Gallon

Heading to Newport Beach? Jump on the 73 Toll Road and bypass all the traffic on the 405 Freeway while you enjoy scenic views. Traveling from Corona to the Irvine Spectrum? Take the 241 and 133 Toll Roads and get there in half the time.

What’s not to love about getting to your destination quicker and with an ETA you can safely predict? For this Valentine’s Day, you don’t have to skip the flowers or chocolate; drive The Toll Roads and arrive on time to meet your Valentine.

Idea of Quality Time

 

Paying Tolls Online Now as Easy as Typing Your License Plate Number

An upgrade to The Toll Roads’ online toll payment option allows drivers who don’t have an existing account to pay online with just a vehicle license plate number. This means drivers no longer need to input where they entered and exited The Toll Roads in order to calculate their toll.

The new system feature is particularly helpful to visitors and those driving The Toll Roads for the first time — and those who only make 2-3 trips a year and choose not to have an account. . Instead of remembering the details of their trip, drivers can use the option to and let the system present the tolls due.

“All you have to do is enter your license plate number and dates of travel online and we’ll calculate the tolls for you,” said Lisa Telles, Chief Communications Officer for the Transportation Corridor Agencies. “We wanted to make it easier than ever for people traveling through Orange County to drive the largest toll road network in California.”

Cameras capture the license plates of vehicles traveling on The Toll Roads. When a driver inputs a license plate number, the online payment system scans the database to identify any unpaid tolls for the date range specified. Once payment is processed, drivers receive a detailed statement with their trip details listed. Drivers who choose to can still use the original method by selecting “I’ll Calculate My Tolls” and enter specific trip details to pay their tolls.

Drivers have five days to pay tolls online, through The Toll Roads mobile app or by phone after driving the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads. Users access the online payment system from TheTollRoads.com by choosing “Pay Toll Now.”

Paying tolls for a rental car is even easier. The Toll Roads of Orange County partner with most major rental car companies to allow tolls to be paid through car rental agreements. This minimizes the need to remember paying the toll and removes the potential of a rental car customer receiving a violation from the Toll Roads. Check with individual rental car companies to find out how they bill for tolls and if any additional fees apply.

No matter the reason for a visit to Orange County, driving The Toll Roads is a great way to get there faster and stress-free. Thanks to upgrades to the online payment option, it’s easier than ever for anyone driving The Toll Roads to pay tolls and enjoy driving on 51-miles of congestion-free and stress-free roads.

241/91 Driving Courtesy

Anyone who travels between the 241 Toll Road and 91 Freeway knows the challenges that drivers face in this area. Nearly 40,000 cars travel through the northbound Windy Ridge Toll Point every weekday between 3 and 7 p.m.

As those trips descend to the 91 Freeway, they merge with one of the most congested stretches of freeways in the nation.

The significant back up is caused by a lack of capacity or space on the 91 Freeway to accept the commuters merging from the 241 Toll Road. And with the current construction on the 91 Freeway by our transportation partners, the Riverside County Transportation Commission, it’s no surprise that congestion is exacerbated. Long story short, the high demand created by jobs in Orange County and affordable housing in the Inland Empire results in too much traffic for the number of lanes available.

There are four lanes on the northbound 241 Toll Road as drivers approach the 91 Freeway – two on the left merge onto the westbound 91 Freeway and two on the right merge onto the eastbound 91 Freeway.  With the majority of commuters traveling from Orange County to Corona, Riverside and other parts of the Inland Empire, traffic backs up on the 241 Toll Road in the two right lanes, while traffic continues to flow heading west to Anaheim and Yorba Linda. Adding to the bumper-to-bumper frustration are the so-called queue jumpers – drivers who try to bypass the congestion by driving in the left two lanes only to cut-in at the last minute.

These queue-jumpers create more congestion and are a safety hazard. Stopping in free-flow lanes and making an unsafe lane change is illegal. California Highway Patrol (CHP) can cite up to four different vehicle codes when pulling over a driver for unsafe lane changes. If you do this, you can be ticketed, but more importantly, you could cause a major accident.

We see and hear the frustrations our 241 Toll Road drivers share on social media and understand your plight. The Toll Roads of Orange County are working on two efforts to address both these issues:

  1. Short term 241-91-after – To assist CHP with driver safety enforcement, crews recently installed new regulatory signs, raised reflectors and painted a double-double white line for the stretch between the east and west 91 Freeway merge lanes and added markings on the pavement to direct drivers to the correct lanes for their transition to the 91 Freeway. Drivers will see an increase of CHP officers enforcing those who impede traffic or unsafely change lanes. Discourteous drivers, not adhering to the rules, risk getting a citation with a minimum penalty amount of $238. And as our good friend Honk at the OC Register says, “Cutting in at the last moment is rude.

2. Long-term sr241_91hov-6198 – We are working with Caltrans to propose building a direct, median-to-median, tolled connector directly linking the 241 Toll Road to the 91 Express Lanes. This would add an additional option for drivers headed further east into Riverside or down the 15 Freeway to connect directly into the 91 Express Lanes, bypassing any congestion on the existing connector. As part of the environmental phase, a public review period and public hearing was held in fall 2016 to solicit feedback on this proposed project. The final environmental document is expected to be completed in 2018, to learn more, please visit thetollroads.com/241-91connector. Construction of the direct connector may involve hard separation (such as channelizers or a wall barrier) of westbound and eastbound lanes.

So, the next time you drive the northbound 241 Toll Road through the Windy Ridge Toll Point, please remember to be a courteous driver. Stay in the right-hand lanes before you pass the Windy Ridge Toll Point if you are traveling to Riverside County. If you’re heading eastbound on the 91 Freeway, stay out of left lanes when heading down the hill to allow westbound traffic to safely get to their destination. Most of us are rushing out of work to get home and to family functions, but we want to ensure everyone makes it to their destination safe and sound. If you get caught in the westbound lanes, we recommend that you continue west, exit at Weir Canyon and return to the 91 Freeway to head east – that is the safest and most courteous thing to do – and it would make Mom proud!

Cruising the Corridor in the Summer of 1996

I drive to and from Anaheim Hills and Irvine on The Toll Roads every day. I love my congestion-free drive. But before you begin rolling your eyes at the gal who works for The Toll Roads, I’ve learned new reasons and meaning to love and appreciate my drive.

My commute is a free-flowing 25 minutes and provides ample stress-free time to call my Mom from my Bluetooth. I check-in; ask about her day, and how Dad and “the boys” (their three dogs) are doing. Our chats are always engaging and a relaxing way to end my work day, but one thing that never fails is Mom’s daily question, “are you driving the corridor today?” to which I always reply, “Mom, it’s called The Toll Road” (as if a teenager is scolding her Mom for not using cool lingo).

Cruise the Corridor collageThis week marks 20 years since the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) opened the first phase of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor, known to most people as the 73 Toll Road. And in celebrating this milestone, the word corridor brings new meaning to me, my job and a drive that I don’t take for granted.

In the summer of 1996, I didn’t yet have my driver’s license, but Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby” was a summer chart topper and “Macarena” was one of the coolest songs out there; Independence Day with Will Smith was also a box office hit. The Toll Roads – 51 miles of open road that serve as alternatives to Orange County’s congested freeways – have always been part of my driving experience, and anyone who’s been driving in Orange County since the late 90’s, knows no different. But to my Mom, who still calls them “the corridors,” they provide a much-needed sigh of relief to Orange County’s gridlock and enhanced the county’s transportation landscape while also preserving open space.

On July 20, 1996, TCA invited residents of Orange County to Cruise the Corridor as they celebrated the opening of the first phase of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor. I found the invitation and program as I dug through our archives. In the summer of ’96, thousands of Orange County residents joined TCA for a fun run to experience the road before it opened to traffic and to celebrate 20 years of planning and nearly four years of construction. The new road was the first seven-mile stretch of a corridor that would ultimately take drivers 15 miles from Laguna Niguel to Newport Beach, providing a new transportation alternative to the 5 and 405 freeways.

Leading up to the opening of00010004 the new San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor, Mom read headlines about TCA’s strong environmental programs used throughout construction and the innovative financing and planning to make the roads possible. The term “corridor” has always stuck with her. Back in the 90’s, “corridor” was a modern term commonly used to describe multiple modes of transportation to move people, such as highways, rail and buses.

The San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor was the start of a link between South County and coastal cities and it has proven to be a valuable route. Although over time the name changed to the 73 Toll Road to reflect what the public called the new route, to Mom, it will always be the “corridor.”

In celebrating this milestone, I’ve learned to appreciate how the “corridor” enhanced the quality of life in Orange County by cutting commute times, reducing rush-hour frustration and making Southern California destinations more accessible. In those 20 years while the county continued to grow and expand, the “corridor” has always served the same purpose – trips on the 73 Toll Road have more than doubled in 20 years, logging nearly 31 million transactions last year. It’s hard to imagine what traffic would be like in Orange County without the 73 Toll Road!

So on my drive home when I call Mom tonight, I’ll smile when she asks if I’m driving the corridor and I’ll proudly respond, “yes, Mom, I’m cruising the corridor home today.”

The Toll Roads: Where to Go & What to Know

School is out, bags are packed and summer vacation has officially begun. But before you hit the road for your family staycation or road trip, here’s a list of the five things you need to know to beat the summer heat and SoCal traffic:

FasTrak_throughout_CADon’t Forget to Pack Your FasTrak® Transponder – The 73 Toll Road is a popular route for drivers traveling between Los Angeles and San Diego and the 241 Toll Road is a popular route to get to and from the Inland Empire, mountains and deserts to Orange County’s beaches. Be sure you’ve packed your FasTrak transponder before hitting the road. Because not only can you use FasTrak to pay tolls when driving The Toll Roads in Orange County but it also works on all of California’s tolled bridges, lanes and roads.

Paying Tolls Without an Account? There’s An App for That. – The Toll Roads recently released a new and improved mobile app allowing you to pay tolls on the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads in the palm of your hand if you don’t have an account. Download the latest version of The Toll Roads’ app by searching “the toll roads” in the Google Play and Apple App Stores and enjoy a stress-free drive in Orange County. You can also compare account types and sign up with the updated app.

MobileAppBpngPaying Tolls With a Rental Car is Now Easier than Ever – The Toll Roads have partnered with most major rental car companies to simplify toll payments by allowing tolls to be charged directly to your credit card through rental car agreements. The new rental car toll payment program, eligible only on State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261 in Southern California, eliminates the chance of a rental car customer receiving a Notice of Toll Evasion after they return their rental vehicle. Visit our rental car page to learn more about options for rental car drivers, including steps to take if you’re already a FasTrak or ExpressAccount® customer.

RentalCarMapCalculate Your Tolls – Want to know what the cost is for a particular trip? Check out our online toll calculator to easily calculate your toll by selecting the road you will drive; your entry and exit points (choose “unknown” if you are not sure); how you will pay; and type of vehicle. Rates to drive on Orange County’s Toll Roads will increase slightly on Friday, July 1, from one cent to 14 cents, depending on the location and time of travel. The toll calculator webpage also features a downloadable map and rate card.

Hosting Family & Friends? –If you’re hosting out-of-town guests or renting or borrowing a vehicle, be sure to temporarily add the vehicle’s license plate number to your FasTrak or ExpressAccount so they can drive The Toll Road without worrying to pay online.

Safe travels and enjoy your drive on The Toll Roads.

The Toll Roads Fans Spread The Love

Facebook Giveaway Main GraphicIn February, we showed our love for our drivers by giving away $50 in free toll credits to four lucky winners.

To be eligible to win, we asked drivers to “Like” The Toll Roads on Facebook and leave a comment on the page explaining what they love most about driving The Toll Roads.

We received more than one thousand entries and were overjoyed reading the comments.

One driver shared that she’s been driving the 241 Toll Road every day for the past 10 years to avoid traffic on her commute. While The Toll Roads save her time, what she loves most about her drive is the view. In spring, the hills are green and flowers are growing and in the winter the mountain tops in the distance are covered in snow. In her day-to day-routine of city life, she told us her daily view of nature relaxes her and it’s what she loves most about her drive every morning.

We received many comments from drivers sharing how The Toll Roads help them get to their destination on time with less stress and home to their families quicker at the end of a long day. The heart below displays the words used most in the responses we received.

Love Your Drive Word Cloud

Drivers also said:

  • “I love the fact that it gets me to my grandkids faster. I spend less time on the road and get more time with them.”
  • “Light traffic, and the view of Catalina Island from the 73 can’t be beat!”
  • “I love it when I work longer than usual and get stuck right at the worst traffic times, then that feeling you get when you can hop on The Toll Road and breeze on through.”
  • “There’s nothing like arriving home on a Friday evening in a stress free, relaxed mood after a long week of work!”

 

Thank you to all of our drivers who entered. We work hard everyday to ensure that you love your drive.

$1.4 Billion Refinancing Improves Long-Term Debt Structure for 73 Toll Road

TCA Spring 2011The San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency has successfully refinanced $1.4 billion of its $2.2 billion in outstanding debt issued to fund construction of the 73 Toll Road.

“This is great news for drivers and the communities that surround the 73 Toll Road,” said Scott Schoeffel, Chairman of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency, the joint powers authority responsible for financing the 73 Toll Road. “Refinancing improves the agency’s long-term financial health by lowering the annual debt service payments and improving financial flexibility.”

The bond issue was well received by the market with $2.5 billion in orders for a bond issue sized at $1.4 billion reflecting the 73 toll road’s performance, rating upgrade and confidence in the credit profile.

By taking advantage of the current low interest rates, and selling bonds with a nominal maturity of 2050 compared to the current 2042, the annual debt service growth is reduced from 8.8 to 1.7 percent over the next ten years. The interest rate on the restructured bonds averages 4.74 percent. The previous average was 5.72 percent – a reduction of nearly 100 basis points.

5809896002_b3709940fd_z“The combination of low interest rates, improved credit rating, and strong investor response resulted in a net present value savings of $44 million,” said Amy Potter, Chief Financial Officer for the Transportation Corridor Agencies.

“With this new long-term sustainable debt structure and conservative growth outlook for the 73 Toll Road, the agency will have greater financial flexibility moving forward which may allow the agency to moderate future toll rate increases, withstand economic downturns and potentially pay off the debt ahead of the 2050 final maturity date,” said Michael Kraman, Chief Executive Officer for the Transportation Corridor Agencies.

The sale is scheduled to close in early November and consisted of:

  • $1.1 billion in tax-exempt Senior Lien Current Interest Toll Road Revenue Bonds, with a 1.3-times coverage ratio requirement.

  • $300 million in tax-exempt Current Interest Junior Lien Toll Road Refunding Revenue Bonds, with a 1.1-times coverage ratio requirement.

Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings have rated the agency’s Senior Lien Bonds BBB- and the Junior Lien Bonds BB+. Both ratings are higher than the agency’s previous ratings.

FULL CLOSURE: NORTHBOUND 241 TOLL ROAD

Caltrans will be performing a FULL CLOSURE of the northbound 241 Toll Road from Antonio Parkway to Santa Margarita Parkway on the following nights this week for pavement profiling in advance of the resurfacing of the roadway.

During these times the northbound 241 Toll Road onramp from Antonio Parkway will also be closed.

The closure hours are as follows:

  • Wednesday (9/10/14) from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. Thursday morning.
  • Thursday (9/11/14) from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. Friday morning.
  • Friday (9/12/14) from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. Saturday morning.

DETOUR:  All northbound 241 Toll Road traffic will be routed off at the northbound Antonio Parkway off ramp.  Traffic will then be directed left onto Antonio, right on Avenida Empresa and right onto Santa Margarita Parkway where they can re-enter the northbound 241 Toll Road at the Santa Margarita Parkway northbound onramp.