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E-ZPass Phishing Scam Alert

Credit: 9news.com

Credit: 9news.com

Phishing Scam Alert: There is a phishing email* being sent to drivers across the nation claiming they owe money for unpaid E-ZPass tolls.  This is not an email from The Toll Roads, the Transportation Corridor Agencies, E-ZPass or E-ZPass tolling agencies. E-ZPass is used to collect tolls electronically on the East Coast; FasTrak is used to collect tolls electronically on the West Coast.

Please do not open or respond to the email if you receive it. To see an example of the email, please click here.

*Phishing emails, websites and phone calls are designed to steal money.  Cybercriminals can do this by installing malicious software on your computer or stealing personal information off of your computer.  To report a phishing email, forward it to: phishing-report@us-cert.gov.

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.

CALIFORNIA’S FIRST SUCCESSFUL NATIVE HABITAT RESTORATION ON A CLOSED LANDFILL CELEBRATES 20TH ANNIVERSARY

Landfill Beauty ShotTwenty years ago, the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) made history when they planted 122 acres of coastal sage scrub on the former Coyote Canyon Landfill in Newport Beach, Calif.  It was the first time that native habitat for an endangered species had ever been planted on a closed landfill.  Today, it is a thriving habitat that supports native wildlife and requires no maintenance.

“Coyote Canyon proves to everyone that habitat restoration that is carefully planned and flawlessly executed can produce great results. It truly is one of the great environmental success stories in Orange County,” said Rush Hill, mayor of Newport Beach and chairman of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency.

Central Orange County’s solid waste was disposed of at the Coyote Canyon Landfill for 27 years (1963 to 1990).  During that time, more than 60 million cubic yards of waste were buried on approximately 395 acres. Since 1982, the gas produced by the decomposing waste has been fueling electricity production and currently generates roughly seven megawatts of power, supplying electricity for at least 6,000 homes for 32 years.

When it closed in 1990, Coyote Canyon Landfill’s closure plan was the first in the nation to include specifications to create habitat for a federally-listed bird species, the California gnatcatcher.  The landfill was designated as a special linkage for birds and animals between the San Joaquin Hills and Upper Newport Bay in the Nature Reserve of Orange County’s Natural Community Conservation Plan.

“TCA spearheaded the restoration of the Coyote Canyon Landfill as mitigation for construction of the 73 Toll Road and because it is a critical part of a comprehensive plan to provide a wildlife link from the Back Bay to the San Joaquin Hills,” added Hill.  “The goal was to establish a resilient habitat that needed no maintenance after initial establishment.”

Margo on LandfillCoastal sage scrub — a low-growing, aromatic and drought-deciduous shrub found in coastal California — developed across the landfill after seeding in the fall of 1994.  Because coastal sage scrub includes deep-rooting plants, four and a half feet of soil was added on top of the Coyote Canyon Landfill to accommodate the habitat.  Soil monitoring was conducted to ensure the native plants’ moisture and roots did not negatively affect the landfill’s clay cap and gas recovery system.  The monitoring and resulting reports were the first demonstration in the southwest U.S. that native vegetation could be planted and maintained without compromising a landfill closure cover or gas recovery system.

Listed as “Threatened” by the federal government in 1993, the California gnatcatcher is a small, non-migratory bird that frequents dense coastal sage scrub.  The first California gnatcatcher pair arrived at the Coyote Canyon Landfill ahead of schedule — just two years after the habitat was planted. By 1999, the site’s fifth year, fifteen pairs of California gnatcatchers were successfully breeding in the habitat; 58 percent produced one brood successfully and 33 percent successfully produced two broods. These percentages were comparable to other populations in the region and the Coyote Canyon Landfill habitat was deemed acceptable as mitigation for the California gnatcatcher.

The coastal sage scrub habitat has met all federal permit requirements and the performance standards established by the Biological Opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the 73 Toll Road.

TCA is comprised of two joint powers authorities formed by the California legislature in 1986 to plan, finance, construct and operate Orange County’s 67-mile public toll road system in the most environmentally sensitive way possible.

Gnatcatcher BirdTCA has conserved and restored 15 locations in Orange County. Hundreds of birds and animals – including the California gnatcatcher – have found a safe home on TCA’s more than 2,100 acres of coastal sage scrub, wetlands, riparian and salt-water marsh.  At least 75 baby gnatcatchers, more than 40 species of birds, five species of rodents, 13 invertebrates and larger mammals such as coyote, bobcat and mountain lions utilize TCA’s habitat mitigation areas.

Since 1996, TCA has been a proud participant and active contributor to the Central/Coastal Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP), a reserve created to set aside 38,783 acres of prime habitat in Orange County for 42 individual species. During the three years it took to create the plan, TCA contributed its mitigation sites to the reserve and provided $6.6 million of a $10 million endowment, which funds the ongoing management of the reserve. The goal of the NCCP is to conserve native animal and plant species while continuing to allow appropriate development and growth. An estimated 699 acres of TCA’s mitigation areas are included within the reserve and the agencies plan to continue participation through ongoing oversight of the preserved lands.

FREE COMMUNITY EXPO THIS SATURDAY!

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THERE’S NO MORE STOPPING TO PAY TOLLS ON THE TOLL ROADS

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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

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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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SIGNS ON THE TOLL ROADS ARE GOING PURPLE

IMG_0344%20%28Small%29In anticipation of The Toll Roads removing cash toll collection on May 14 at 12:01 a.m., 121 new signs are being installed on the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads.

The new signs are purple, which is the color increasingly being used by tolling agencies across the nation to indicate that a road and/or lanes are tolled electronically.

The move to purple signage for all-electronic toll lanes started in 1991 in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.  In 2008, the Federal Highway Administration officially supported the use of the color purple for electronic toll collection signs to facilitate smooth vehicle flow and eliminate driver confusion.

IMG_0339%20%28Small%29The new signs on The Toll Roads indicate that all drivers now use the former “FasTrak® Only” lanes.  The appropriate tolls will be deducted from the FasTrak or ExpressAccount™ (charge, prepaid or invoice) the vehicle is registered to.  If the driver does not have an account, they can use TheTollRoads.com or our free app to pay a One-Time-Toll™ within 48 hours after the trip.

The new One-Time-Toll signs have a blue background indicative of informational road signs and display our website where users can go to pay One-Time-Toll. Of the 121 new signs, 32 are One-Time-Toll signs.

Drivers who fail to pay a toll using one of the five, abovementioned options will receive a violation notice.

The signs will continue to be installed at night over the next several weeks.

OTT-SB241-Tomato_Springs-20140415In 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 ExpressAccounts, 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.

ENJOY THE 14TH ANNUAL SPRING TOURS SERIES

You’re invited to The Toll Roads’ highly-anticipated 14th Annual Spring Tours Series.  The 2014 Spring Tours celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Coyote Canyon Landfill Mitigation Site.

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Participants will experience the natural beauty of Orange County on guided walks through land set aside and protected with the construction of the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads.

Led by the restoration specialist and biologist who has spent the last two decades restoring the sites to their native habitat and contributing to The Toll Roads’ award-winning environmental programs, this year’s tours focus on the comprehensive efforts and commitment to environmental conservation and restoration, and provide an exclusive glimpse into special areas of Orange County that few have ever seen.

In addition to its guided nature walks, this year The Toll Roads will host a special 20th Anniversary Community Expo to mark the successful restoration of the closed landfill.  The expo is free, family-friendly and open to the public.

Guided Nature Walks

Bonita Creek – May 3 – Restoration & Bird Watching Tour: 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

The 21-acre Bonita Creek restoration area is part of the main wildlife link from Upper Newport Bay to the San Joaquin Hills. It was restored with the construction of the 73 Toll Road from a narrow rip-rap lined ditch and underground culverts to a viable riparian habitat rich with wildlife. This easy, three-mile guided walkwill be primarily on a paved path and along the San Diego Creek to a restored saltwater marsh.  It will focus on plants and the methods used to restore the creek and riparian habitat.  Bird watchers will see wetland and coastal sage scrub bird species and binoculars are highly recommended. The tour will be led by a restoration specialist and an avian biologist and is designed for participants over the age of 12.

Coyote Canyon – May 17 – Guided Walk: 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Come and join as The Toll Roads celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Coyote Canyon Landfill Mitigation Site and its spectacular environmental achievements as the nation’s first native habitat for the protection of a federally-listed species to be implemented on a closed landfill.  This moderate, five-mile guided walkthrough restoration areas on the landfill allows the public to see the natural restoration firsthand. Participants will learn about the innovative revegetation techniques that successfully established more than 122 acres of native, drought tolerant habitat.

Space on the guided walks is limited; call (949) 754-3405 or email ycruz@thetollroads.com to sign up.

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Free Community Expo

Coyote Canyon – May 17 – 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Toll Roads are joining with the County of Orange, the City of Newport Beach and other partners to host a free, family-friendly public expo to celebrate two decades of environmental excellence. The free open house expo is open to all and includes fun educational booths and discussions on the science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) used to operate this landfill during its post-closure process, including multi-use designs for gas recovery and native habitat restoration.

Directions: From State Route 73: Exit Newport Coast Drive and head south past Sage Hill High School. Turn right at the traffic signal to arrive at the destination.   From Pacific Coast Highway: Take PCH to Newport Coast Drive and make a legal U-turn at Turtle Crest Drive. Pass Sage Hill High School and make a right at the traffic signal to arrive at the destination.