Orange County Branch Newsletter
TCA: Celebrating 20 Years of Keeping People Moving in Southern California
By Sarah Swensson King
IRVINE, Calif. - November 29, 2018 – Today marked the Transportation Corridor Agencies’ (TCA) 20th anniversary of the 133 and 241 Toll Roads. A 24-mile segment of the 241 Toll Road saw more than 11 million vehicles in its first year in 1998, jumping to over 60 million vehicles in 2018.
Orange County’s 51-miles of toll roads – State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261 – represent 20 percent of Orange County’s freeway system and makes up the largest network of toll roads in California. With more than 320,000 daily trips on The Toll Roads, that’s 320,000 less trips on the already congested 5, 55, and 405 freeways; thereby improving mobility for everyone – even those who do not use them.
The idea for the Toll Roads emerged in the 1970s when Orange County officials identified that several new roads were needed to serve Orange County’s growing population. By the early 1980s, SR-73, 133, 241 and 261 became more than ideas and were included in Orange County’s transportation plans. And in 1986, TCA – a joint powers authority including the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency and San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency – was formed to address Southern California’s booming population, worsening traffic conditions and diminishing government funds.
The Toll Roads represent a highly sustainable and stable way to finance much-needed mobility options in Southern California. In fact, collectively, the annual toll revenue has grown from $41 million in 1998 to nearly $330 million in 2018. Private toll revenue bonds and development impact fee revenue were used to finance and construct Orange County’s Toll Roads. The majority of the tolls collected pay back the debt issued to fund construction.
Fast forward to the late 1990s when construction of the Eastern Transportation Corridor (133 Toll Road and a segment of the 241 Toll Road) debuted a year earlier than scheduled, much to the delight of long-suffering commuters. The growing network of toll roads allowed drivers to bypass delays on Orange County’s congested 5, 55 and 405 Freeways. Today, 20 years later, The Toll Roads continue to provide a predictable and convenient choice for drivers to get to where they need to go.
Here are five fun facts celebrating TCA’s innovation over the last 20 years:
- TCA was one of the first agencies in the state to use the design-build method for constructing the 241 Toll Road, which also included 66 bridges. The approach combined design and construction simultaneously to reduce the construction duration and cost.
- The legislation that gave TCA permission to collect tolls mandated that tolls be collected electronically (not just through cash at toll booths), which led to the creation of the FasTrak® system. FasTrak is a transponder that is used to exchange information with a roadside computer, automatically deducting tolls from the user’s prepaid account as the vehicle passes through the toll points without slowing.
- The Toll Roads were constructed with wildlife in mind. Natural travel patterns of deer and other wildlife were tracked and monitored to determine the paths they most frequently used. The Toll Roads then built wildlife undercrossings at the locations where the animals travel the most, allowing them to move safely and quickly from point A to point B. One of the busiest wildlife undercrossing in Southern California is under the 241 Toll Road.
- TCA was the first toll road operator in the nation to offer a free mobile app for toll account management in 2012. To date, the app has been downloaded more than 1.3 million times to help customers manage their account or pay a toll from their smart phone or tablet.
- On average, 1,000 new FasTrak accounts and Express Accounts are opened every day. As of Oct. 31, 2018, the number of open accounts totaled more than 1.37 million.
The 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads continue to be the easiest and most predictable way to get to and through Orange County. Happy anniversary – and thank you for providing drivers a choice for over 20 years. Click here to view construction photos of the 241 Toll Road. And visit thetollroadsblog.com to read more fun facts about The Toll Roads.