California Toll Road Needs Billion Dollar Bailout

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
california toll road needs billion dollar bailout

The public agency responsible for operating California’s largest network of toll roads is now looking to federal taxpayers for financial help. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) have asked the US Department of Transportation for a record $1.1b in TIFIA loan support to avoid collapse. TCA’s 51-mile system of roads generated $294m in yearly revenue. Now, motorists hammered by record gasoline prices have decided to save money by avoiding the 73, 133, 241 and 261 toll routes. Still, as late as June, TCA officials insisted that their public-private partnership model protected taxpayers. “The toll roads are designed and built with proceeds from the sale of toll revenue bonds, which are repaid entirely by tolls collected on the completed road,” TCA spokesman Jennifer Seaton wrote in an email to TheNewspaper. “No tax dollars are at stake.” The construction cost of the TCA toll roads was $1.7b. Since 1998, TCA has also levied $420m through developer fees that are passed on to taxpayers. Around 23 percent of the money collected from drivers so far has gone solely to cover the expenses required to run the collection systems, according to a report by the Washington state Department of Transportation ( read report). By comparison, collection cost for the state’s eighteen-cent fuel excise tax is just 0.69 percent.

[ Click here for the full story from]

Join the conversation
4 of 14 comments
  • GS650G GS650G on Oct 17, 2008

    They just raised the bridge tolls from 3 to 4 dollars in the Philly area and are going up another buck next year. After that, annual increases of a smaller number. So after long dogging the commuters twice they promise to only wiggle a little. 75% of revenue goes towards salary and benefits of the bridge authority. Large amounts of revenue were spent dredging the river rather than charging the shipping companies (can't scare away business you know) and also for waterfront development. I guess the development was a bad investment requiring tolls taken from drivers to make it viable. The bridges are in sad shape, so they tell us the increase is for repairs. they have 35 million in the bank, of course that is called an emergency fund and can't be spent. Their emergency, not yours. The people on the board are all connected politicians and lawyers. Surprised?

  • 50merc 50merc on Oct 17, 2008

    Phil said, "These are beautiful roads, albeit infested by police." Well, there's the revenue problem right there. On weekends and holidays abolish the speed limit, get rid of the cops and sell franchises to private ambulance services and wrecker haulers. Half of southern California will come to see what their cars can do; the other half will come to watch the carnage.

  • Eric_Stepans Eric_Stepans on Oct 18, 2008

    How'd that privatization/deregulation thing work out for you? . (Warning: links contain rude gestures) . .

  • R H R H on Oct 18, 2008

    I never understood WHY tolls here were so cheap. I've driven long distance in both mexico & brazil and tolls can be 20x as expensive....