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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. We’re currently seeking your comments on this proposed project, 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.

TRANSITION PROGRAM REMAINS IN PLACE TO EASE DRIVER CONVERSION TO ALL-ELECTRONIC TOLL COLLECTION

Road Entry No CashAfter cash toll collection ended on Orange County’s toll roads on May 14, a program was implemented to ease drivers’ transition to the new all-electronic toll collection system. The transition program — originally put in place through the long Labor Day weekend — has been extended as The Toll Roads continue to evaluate data about usage, payments, feedback from customers and reports from customer service representatives.

“We will keep the transition program in place while we monitor how drivers are using the roads as summer winds down, tourism lightens and many people get back to their commuting routines,” said Mike Kraman, acting CEO of The Toll Roads. “We also want to keep the transition program in place as we make improvements to our customer service functions to better serve our customers.”

As part of the transition program:
• Penalty fees for first-time violations are waived if the tolls incurred are paid within 30 days of receiving a notice of toll evasion. Approximately 40 percent of violation notices are sent to people who have never before received a violation notice.

• Drivers without a pre-established tolling account can pay tolls online within seven days after driving the roads using the One-Time-Toll™ payment option. One-Time-Toll was developed to be used within 48 hours of driving the roads. Data is being reviewed to determine if the One-Time-Toll payment timeframe will be extended permanently.

The following improvements have been (or are being) implemented:
• Additional road signs have been installed. There are now 414 signs on the roadway informing drivers that they are on a tolled road; that cash is not accepted; that tolls can be paid electronically via a pre-established account or online using the One-Time-Toll payment option; and that a violation will be issued if tolls are not paid.
• Information about the closure of cash booths and how to pay online has been added to changeable message signs located on freeways leading to The Toll Roads.
• Information about the penalty relief for first-time violations is inserted into first-time violation notices. The notice also includes information about how to sign up for a FasTrak® or ExpressAccount® for future trips.
• To support the conversion, 14 employees were added to the customer service department. Six additional temporary customer service representatives have been added and 20 more are in the process of being added.
• Forty-six additional phone lines are being added to the customer call center. To accommodate callers.
• Adjustments have been made to information on the website to address common questions.
• Outreach programs to the general public; Spanish-speaking community; tourism industry; rental car agencies; seniors; college campuses; and military are being expanded and revamped as needed.

OTT To Avoid VioApproximately 250,000 people drive The Toll Roads every day as a way to avoid traffic congestion and save time. A majority of customers — 91 percent — pay with either a FasTrak, ExpressAccount or with the One-Time-Toll online payment feature. Since May 14, 65,269 ExpressAccounts® have been opened and 440,267 drivers have paid using One-Time-Toll™

Five ways to pay tolls on The Toll Roads:
1. FasTrak: Establish a prepaid account, pay tolls that are $1 less than all other drivers pay and receive a transponder that allows you to pay tolls electronically on every tolled bridge, lane and road in California.
2. Charge ExpressAccount: Establish an account with no prepayment. Drive The Toll Roads and your daily tolls are charged to your credit card. You cannot use this account to pay tolls on any other bridge, lane or road.
3. Invoice ExpressAccount: Establish an account with no prepayment. Drive The Toll Roads and, at the end of the month, receive an invoice for your accumulated tolls. This account includes an invoice fee. You cannot use this account to pay tolls on any other bridge, lane or road.
4. Prepaid ExpressAccount: Establish a prepaid account. Drive The Toll Roads and tolls are deducted from your prepaid account. You cannot use this account to pay tolls on any other bridge, lane or roads.
5. One-Time-Toll payment option: Drive The Toll Roads and within 48 hours after your drive, use our website or free app to pay your toll(s) with a credit card.

 

The Toll Roads Update: All-Electronic Toll Collection

IMG_9176_WebWe’ve implemented a program to help drivers transition to all-electronic toll collection, which went into effect on May 14 when cash toll collection was removed from The Toll Roads (State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261).

Through Labor Day, The Toll Roads are waiving penalty fees for first-time violators.  First-time violators will receive a notice of toll evasion in the mail with instructions for how to pay the toll online, without having to pay penalty.  The toll must be paid online within 30 days of receiving the notice of toll evasion.

Violators are drivers who use The Toll Roads without making an attempt to pay their toll(s).  Everyday 250,000 people drive The Toll Roads – and most of them pay their tolls with FasTrak or an ExpressAccount.

IMG_9164_WebFor infrequent trips, the One-Time-Toll payment option allows drivers to use The Toll Roads without an account and pay the toll online at thetollroads.com or via The Toll Roads’ free app within 48 hours after using the roads to avoid a violation.

To help all drivers transition to all-electronic toll collection, The Toll Roads have hired 10 additional customer service representatives to work in the Customer Call Center.  With 14 customer service representatives added to the call center before May 14, there will soon be a total of 54 representatives helping customers in four languages.

Out on the roads, 236 new signs were posted with the conversion to cash-less tolling — of those, 111 are for One-Time-Toll drivers.  Additional signs are being added and will include flashing lights to better alert drivers to changes and how to pay tolls.

TOMORROW IS THE LAST DAY TO PAY WITH CASH ON THE TOLL ROADS

Beginning Wednesday, May 14 at 12:01 a.m., cash toll collection will cease on The Toll Roads in Orange County, making travel faster and more convenient for the more than 250,000 weekday commuters who choose The Toll Roads.

“Tuesday will be the final day to pay with cash on The Toll Roads,” said Lisa Bartlett, chairwoman of the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency. “The removal of cash tolls is a trend throughout the tolling industry and we’ve surveyed our cash customers to provide new electronic payment options that will work for them.”

Cars at 73 Toll Booths

In January, the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), which operates The Toll Roads, introduced four new ways to pay tolls to replace cash toll collection. Along with the hugely-popular FasTrak® payment method, the three new ExpressAccount™ types and the new One-Time-Toll™ option make the drive on The Toll Roads fast and convenient.

More than 82 percent of transactions are already paid electronically using a FasTrak or ExpressAccount, while 13 percent are cash transactions.

“We want all customers to experience the benefits of a free-flowing drive that our FasTrak and ExpressAccount customers enjoy,” said Rush Hill, chairman of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency. “If they haven’t signed up for a FasTrak or ExpressAccount, now is the time to ensure you always have options.”

Tomorrow is also the final day of work for toll attendants, who have worked at the Toll Roads toll plazas since the first plaza opened in 1993. All toll personnel (toll attendants, lead toll attendants, managers, assistant managers, etc.) are contract employees of Central Parking System, the largest parking management firm in the country, operating approximately 700 parking locations in Orange and Los Angeles counties alone. CPS will seek to find alternate employment options for these employees in other company positions in Southern California.

“We honor the service they’ve provided our customers and they have been part of the success of The Toll Roads,” said Chairman Hill.

RAMP DETOUR NOTICE: NB 241 TOLL ROAD AT PORTOLA PKWY-IRVINE

241-Detour

TIME IS TICKING: OPEN FASTRAK OR EXPRESSACCOUNT BEFORE CASH TOLL COLLECTION STOPS

In just six days cash toll collection will cease on The Toll Roads.  Are you ready?  If you have FasTrak® or AN ExpressAccount™ the answer is yes.

If you currently pay with cash when you drive State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261, now is the time to decide how you will pay after 12:01 a.m. on May 14.

There are five ways to pay tolls on The Toll Roads: FasTrak, three new ExpressAccount types and the new One-Time-Toll option.  Click here for information about the different account options and to learn which one is right for you.

TCA is offering new FasTrak and ExpressAccount customers a free week of nonstop driving as soon as they establish an account at thetollroads.com (PROMO CODE: FREETOLL). The offer ends May 11.

Will you join the 450,336 people who have a FasTrak account or the 69,619 who have an ExpressAccount?

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NEW CUSTOMERS ENJOY ONE FREE WEEK ON THE TOLL ROADS

Haven’t experienced a nonstop, stress-free commute in Orange County in a while? Now’s the perfect time to give The Toll Roads a try for an entire week — for free.

“We want every motorist in Orange County to experience what 250,000 weekday drivers already know — there’s no stop and go on The Toll Roads when you have FasTrak® or an ExpressAccount™,” said Lisa Telles, The Toll Roads’ chief communications officer.

In anticipation of The Toll Roads removing cash toll collection on May 14 at 12:01 a.m., TCA is offering new FasTrak and ExpressAccount customers a free week of nonstop driving as soon as they establish an account at thetollroads.com (PROMO CODE: FREETOLL). The offer ends May 11.

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In January, The Toll Roads introduced more ways to pay tolls to replace cash toll collection. Along with the hugely-popular FasTrak payment method, the three new ExpressAccount types make the drive on The Toll Roads fast and convenient — and most importantly — nonstop. With FasTrak and ExpressAccount, all tolls are collected electronically while motorists travel at highway speeds.

For more information about the different account options and which one is right for you, please visit thetollroads.com. An ExpressAccount can only be used on The Toll Roads (State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261) and the toll is, on average, 20 percent higher than the toll paid by a FasTrak customer.

CASH TOLL COLLECTION ENDS MAY 14 AT 12:01 A.M.

May 13 is the last day to pay with cash on The Toll Roads (State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261). Cash toll collection will cease on the roadways on Wednesday, May 14, at 12:01 a.m.

Visit TheTollRoads.com to see our new clock counting down the days until cash toll collection is removed.

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“This is an exciting time for our Toll Road customers,” said Lisa Bartlett, chairwoman of the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency. “We’re saying good-bye to cash, but we’re welcoming fast, more convenient ways for customers to pay their tolls.”

“We’re seeing the end of an era, but The Toll Roads are definitely riding the wave of change. Paying cash for most things today is quickly becoming obsolete,” said Rush Hill, chairman of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency. “With our new nonstop system, gone will be the need to stop at toll plazas and fumble around for exact change.”

In January, The Toll Roads introduced four new ways to pay tolls to replace cash toll collection. Along with the hugely-popular FasTrak® payment method, the three new ExpressAccount™ types and the new One-Time-Toll option make every trip on The Toll Roads fast and convenient.

Click here for more information about the different account options and which one is right for you. An ExpressAccount can only be used on The Toll Roads (SRs 73, 133, 241 and 261) and the toll is, on average, 20 percent higher than the toll paid by a FasTrak customer.