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10/14/2013
Agreement adds 13 years of toll collection to California Foothills roads
By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor

The California Department of Transportation has signed off on a plan to allow the agency that operates three Orange County toll roads to refinance its debt. For roadway users, that means another 13 years of paying tolls on State Routes 133, 241 and 261.

The Foothills/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency, which oversees the three roadways, likens the agreement to refinancing a mortgage.

A state treasurer’s report earlier this year showed the toll roads were not living up to traffic and revenue projections made by Wilbur Smith Associates.

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer launched a financial review in July and determined the toll roads were on an unsustainable path.

The toll road agency blamed a weakened economy in 2007 and 2008 for flat traffic counts. The agency increased tolls by 12 percent in 2009 in an effort to stem the losses.

According to the treasurer’s report in July, traffic and revenue remained flat from 2010 to 2012 despite another 7 percent toll increase.

The refinancing plan allows the agency to issue new bonds at 3.5 percent interest instead of 4.4 percent.

See related story:
California toll agency overestimated traffic and revenue

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