Orange County Branch Newsletter

September 2016

ASCE Programs

TCA Capital Improvement Project Presentation

By Melissa Brady, P.E., Jazzy Quinabo

ASCE Orange County hosted its August luncheon at the Center Club in Costa Mesa with a presentation by the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA). The event was well-attended by local private and public firms, with an impressive amount of audience members having work experience on the Orange County (OC) Toll Roads. TCA Chief Engineer, David Lowe, P.E. M. ASCE, STP, conducted his presentation on TCA’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) by highlighting the current and future projects planned for Fiscal Year 2017.

Figure 1: Orange County Toll Road System

TCA was established to improve the regional transportation system in southern California and increase mobile efficiency through the use of strategically-designed, public-owned toll facilities. The $4 billion infrastructure investment financed through bond issuance, consists of the SR-73, SR-133, SR-241, and SR-261 shown in Figure 1 above. Encompassing 20 percent of OC’s freeway system, the Toll Roads span approximately 51 miles and is recognized to be the largest network of toll roads in California. Additionally, an impressive 2,100 acres of open-space is protected, conserved, and restored throughout the system. While TCA operates the toll collection system, Caltrans owns and maintains the roads, and the California Highway Patrol presides over its law enforcement.

The 2015 profits indicate $94 million in transactions and $289 million in toll revenue. The money generated by the tolls is currently being used for operation costs and debt payments. Positive trends in traffic and revenue were also recorded for both the Foothill/Eastern section (133, 241, and 261 Toll Roads) and the San Joaquin Hills (73 Toll Road). While the Foothill/Eastern section reported a 7.4 percent increase in traffic and 10.3 percent increase in revenue, the San Joaquin Hills section reported an 8.6 percent increase in traffic and 11.4 percent increase in revenue. Similarly, off-peak and weekend traffic trends are positively growing.


Figure 2: Fiscal Year 2017 Major Capital Improvement Projects

David provided us with TCA’s Capital Improvement Projects plan overview complete with past, current, and future project financials dating back to 1991. He introduced the 2017 Fiscal Year major projects including the 241/91 Express Connector, the Tesoro Extension, and the 241 to I-5 connection. The status of the 241/91 Express Connector was briefly discussed as being in the early environmental documentation phase. The Tesoro five-mile extension connecting to Cow Camp Road will be split into two projects, with an anticipated opening of Spring 2018. The community ascertainment study was completed in January 2016 for the 241 to I-5 Connection project. Current efforts for this project are being focused on analyzing long-term mobility challenges and engaging stakeholders for new federal and state environmental documentation and permitting. The CIP also includes $2.99 million in signage improvements and $2.96 million in toll booth removal. The presentation concluded with a more detailed look on the future contracting opportunities, and a very engaging Q & A session. 

For more information on the Toll Roads of Orange County, please visit

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