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By Shawn Raymundo
California Assemblymember Bill Brough has recently introduced state legislation that would vastly restrict the authority of the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), limiting the joint powers authority’s scope and putting a moratorium on incurring additional debt related to the toll roads.
Assembly Bill 1273 aims to bar the TCA from planning and developing any bridge or major thoroughfare after Jan. 1, 2020, as well as turn over the toll roads to the state after the bonds have been paid.
It would also place a ban on new JPAs from being created for the purposes of constructing “bridge facilities or major thoroughfares,” while prohibiting the TCA from “incurring new bonded indebtedness.”
The measure comes amid the TCA’s ongoing proposals to extend the 241 Toll Road through San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. Those proposals intend to connect the 241 to the I-5 Freeway, passing through the cities where nearby neighborhoods and schools could be impacted.
The TCA has also come under fire since an investigative report from the Los Angeles Times last month revealed details on how it had been spending money toward consultant fees. According to the article, some consultants had been paid about $185 an hour, while others were paid $90 per hour, to read and compile new stories regarding transportation.
Responding to the bill’s introduction in a press release, TCA said it “strongly” opposes AB 1273, because it would “strip the local control away from a public transportation agency that has successfully planned, financed, and constructed 51 miles of state highways without the use of tax dollars.”
“TCA understands the importance of funding transportation infrastructure and Orange County’s Toll Roads are funded by the more than 325,000 daily customers who drive the roads,” the press release stated. “This unique funding model to finance current and future roadway projects has proven successful over the last 20 years.”
According to the TCA, it currently has $3 billion in planned projects such as widening toll roads, improving local streets and highways, as well as maintaining free-flow traffic.
“AB 1273 not only prohibits TCA from fulfilling its core mission to enhance mobility in Orange County but also prevents TCA from utilizing its innovative funding to develop traffic relief solutions,” the TCA said in the release.
The bill is currently sitting in the Assembly’s Committee on Local Government, where it will need to be heard and passed by late April, according to the assemblymember’s office.