The 91 Express Lanes was born from the need for congestion relief on SR-91 when no public funds were available to solve this critical transportation problem. Built by the California Private Transportation Company (CPTC), the 91 Express Lanes embodied a unique concept: The private sector would take the risk and the state would get congestion relief at no cost to taxpayers.
Built at a cost of $135 million, the Orange County section of the project was authorized as a toll road by the State of California in 1989 and opened in 1995. An agreement with the State of California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) included a non-compete provision that created a 1.5-mile protection zone along each side of SR-91. This zone prohibited improvements along the corridor and created mobility problems as the region and corresponding transportation demands grew.
To mitigate growing concerns over congestion, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) acquired the 91 Express Lanes franchise rights in January 2003. This eliminated the non-compete provision, clearing the way for future enhancements that will increase capacity and improve traffic flow along the SR-91 corridor.
In 2008, the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) received authority to extend the Express Lanes to I-15. Traffic congestion on eastbound SR-91 between Anaheim and Corona is routinely among the worst five areas in the nation. At a cost of $1.4 billion, the RCTC 91 Corridor Improvement Project added regular lanes, tolled express lanes, auxiliary lanes and direct express lane connectors from the northbound I-15 to the westbound SR-91 and from the eastbound SR-91 to the southbound I-15. Improvements to interchanges, ramps and surface streets were also made along the 91 corridor.
The Riverside section of the 91 Express Lanes opened in 2017, providing customers with 8 additional miles of travel time certainty.
To provide 91 Express Lanes customers with excellent customer service, OCTA and RCTC entered into an agreement with the current 91 Express Lanes operator to service both segments of the Express Lanes.
In July 2013, OCTA issued Senior Lien Toll Road Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2013, to refund the outstanding Series 2003 Bonds, which were originally issued to finance the acquisition of the 91 Express Lanes for the design, construction and installation of the toll road. The current bonds outstanding are the Series 2013 Bonds.
Bond Ratings: Aa3/AA-/AA-
Final Maturity: 2030
Debt Outstanding as of 3/31/2023: $71,420,000
On November 7, 2006, the voters of Orange County chose to extend the Measure M1 half cent sales tax for another 30 years from 2011 through 2041. Measure M2 (M2), administered by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), will generate billions of dollars to improve transportation in Orange County. M2 is designed to reduce traffic congestion and enhance overall mobility. Improvements in the plan include improving key freeways, upgrading major interchanges, and adding capacity and maintaining streets and roads. M2 allocates 43 percent of funds to freeway projects, 32 percent to streets and roads, and 25 percent to transit projects.
While the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted sales tax revenue through the first half of FY 2020-21, the second half of the FY showed tremendous growth as the Orange County economy began emerging from the pandemic. Though restaurants, gas
stations, and brick and mortar retail continued to be impacted in FY 2020-21, the impacts were more than offset by increased online purchases and the benefit of collecting sales tax on out-of-state online purchases, made possible by the Wayfair decision. As a result, sales tax collections for FY 2020-21 grew by 8.6 percent to $345 million, which is the highest annual sales tax collection for M2. Based on the strong sales tax growth in FY 2020-21 coupled with more optimistic near-term economic recovery, the 2021 sales tax revenue forecast for M2 is $13.2 billion. The revised forecast represents a $1.6 billion gross increase from what was assumed in the prior year's forecast.
On December 13, 2021, the 2021 Next 10 Plan was approved by the Board, reflecting updates to the Measure M2 sales tax revenue forecast, external funding assumptions, and project cost estimates. This comprehensive plan sets priorities and funding commitments over a ten-year period (2021-2030) to ensure the realization of Measure M2 commitments, maintain fiscal sustainability, and strive to deliver transportation benefits early.
The largest component of the overall M2 Program is the Freeway Program. It receives 43 percent of the net sales tax revenue. In the 2021 Next 10 Plan, $4.7 billion in freeway projects are scheduled to be delivered. The I-405 Improvement Project, which at $2.1 billion in estimated cost, will be the largest capital project that OCTA has delivered in its history. This project, slated to open in 2023, is concurrently under final design and construction.
OCTA issues Sales Tax Revenue bonds to provide funds for certain transportation projects, such as the Series 2019 Bonds issued in February 2019 for the funding of the general purpose lanes for the I-405 Improvement Project. The current bonds outstanding are the Series 2010 A Bonds, and Series 2019 Bonds. The 2021 Next 10 plan maintains just one bond issuance during the Next 10 Plan timeframe of approximately $200 million in Fiscal Year 2023; the amount assumed decreased by approximately $375 million from the 2020 Next 10 Plan.
Final Maturity: 2041
Bond Ratings: Aa2/AA+/AA+
Debt Outstanding as of 3/31/2023: $590,235,000