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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.
The 91 Express Lanes 2013 Bonds were issued to refund the 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 and no future debt plans are anticipated at this time.
Bond Ratings: A1/AA/A+
Final Maturity: 2030
Debt Outstanding as of 12/31/2019: $91,865,000
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.
When the M2 Investment Plan was initially developed, forecasts projected M2 sales tax revenue available for projects and programs at $24.3 billion. Since the Great Recession in 2008, projected sales tax revenue has dropped by $10.8 billion and is now projected at $13.1 billion.
On November 13, 2017, the Updated Next 10 Plan was approved by the Board, reflecting new cash flows, schedule, and project information. This comprehensive plan sets priorities and funding commitments over a ten-year period (2017-2026) to ensure that promises made in the M2 Investment Plan can continue to be delivered despite changing economic and revenue shortfall impacts. While the Updated Next 10 Plan considers current cash flow forecasts, project information and schedules, the deliverables remain largely unchanged.
The largest component of the overall M2 Program is the Freeway Program. It receives 43 percent of the net sales tax revenue. In the approved Updated Next 10 Plan, $4.3 billion in freeway projects are scheduled to be delivered. The I-405 Improvement Project, which at $1.9 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 upcoming Series 2019 Bonds issuance for the funding of the general purpose lanes for the I-405 Improvement Project. The current bonds outstanding are the Series 2010 A and B Bonds. OCTA is planning to issue ~$400 million of Sales Tax Revenue bonds in February 2019.
Final Maturity: 2041
Bond Ratings: Aa2/AA+/AA+
Debt Outstanding as of 12/31/2019: $635,220,000