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2023 Mobility 21 Summit Sponsorships Now Open!
Sponsorships for the 22nd annual Southern California Transportation Summit are now open! Join us for our Summit on Friday, Sept. 29 at the Disneyland Hotel.
2023 Summit sponsors will experience:
- Access to public and private sector transportation decision-makers
- Pre-event publicity to transportation sector professionals
- Networking with 1,000 business partners, clients, elected leaders and speakers
- Value for your investment with highly competitive sponsorship rates
Mobility 21 Advisory Board Member Spotlight:
Senior Vice President/Program Leader
Vic Martinez is a Senior Vice President/Program Leader who is leading two high profile projects in WSP’s Southern Ca/Nevada District. He is serving as the Project Manager for two Metro projects, the West Santa Ana Branch (WSAB) ACE/Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) and I-105 ExpressLanes Final Design. In January 2022, the Metro Board selected The Locally Preferred Alternative for the WSAB that proposes to environmentally clear a 15-mile-long light rail line from Pioneer Blvd. to the Slauson Avenue/A Line station. Passengers will be able to connect with the A Line and continue to Los Angeles Union Station. Approval of the EIR/EIS is expected in May 2024. Once the EIR/EIS has been approved, design and construction can proceed.
Vic also is serving as the project manager for the final design of Segments 2 & 3 of the I105 Express Lanes. Segments 2 & 3 would extend the express lanes from Central Avenue to Studebaker Road. It is proposed to build two new express lanes in each direction, this would be the third express lanes project constructed in Los Angeles County. The project includes 14 bridge widenings, and tolling infrastructure necessary to complete the I105 Express Lanes. This project is a first for Metro in that it will be constructed using Construction Management/General Contract alternative delivery method. The goal is to complete construction and open the express lanes by the 2028 Olympics.
Vic also is working with senior project managers in the District to deliver major highway and transportation projects in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Vic and his team at WSP appreciate all the advocacy work that Mobility 21 does to solve local mobility issues. We are also excited to be this year’s Titanium Sponsor for the Mobility 21 Summit. Thank you for this opportunity and big thanks to the Mobility 21 Board for all that you do for southern California.
Mobility 21 Advisory Board Member Spotlight:
Senior Policy Advisory
Southern California Edison
Shant Nahapetian is a Senior Policy Advisor at Southern California Edison (SCE), where he leads external engagement on the company’s transportation electrification policy and operational priorities. In that role, he helps local government, business, and community stakeholders take actions to hasten the transition to zero-emission vehicles and supports the execution of customer programs like Charge Ready – the largest light-duty electric vehicle charging infrastructure program of its kind in the country.
Shant has extensive experience in public policy and government affairs with a focus in highly regulated and scrutinized industries. Prior to SCE, Shant was a Director at DCI Group, an independent public affairs firm in Washington, D.C. He led successful public affairs campaigns to advance the local, state, and federal policy and business priorities of Fortune 250 companies. He also served as an aide to Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX).
Shant is a graduate of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of La Verne with distinction. He also holds certifications in the National Incident Management System, the crisis management system organized by the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.
Crews work on a bridge that will connect SR-73 to I-405 as part of the I-405 Improvement Project. Led by the Orange County Transportation Authority, the improvements are scheduled to be completed later this year. OCTA has saved more than $500 million for taxpayers though innovative financing. Photo courtesy of OCTA.
OCTA Saves Taxpayers $509 Million Through
Innovative Financing on I-405 Improvement Project
The Orange County Transportation Authority has saved $509 million through a series of innovative financing strategies for the I-405 Improvement Project, which is scheduled to be completed this year.
The strategies include securing and later refinancing a $629 million federal loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and taking advantage of volatile interest rates over the past couple of years to generate additional savings.
“I’m pleased to see OCTA continuing to take an innovative financing approach to maximize available funding for the I-405 Improvement Project,” said OCTA Chairman Gene Hernandez, also the Mayor of Yorba Linda. “Thank you to our partners at the U.S. Department of Transportation for working with us throughout this process and to everyone involved in helping us achieve these immense savings.”
$509 Million Savings
In 2017, OCTA secured its initial TIFIA loan for the I-405 Improvement Project with a 2.91% interest rate. The TIFIA loan was estimated to save approximately $300 million on a net present value basis over the life of the loan compared to traditional bond financing.
In 2021, OCTA took advantage of historically low interest rates, becoming the first agency to ever reset a partially drawn TIFIA loan. The new interest rate of 1.95% realized savings of $158 million on a net present value basis.
Also in 2021, OCTA issued Bond Anticipation Notes, a short-term financing tool used during the construction of projects, to allow OCTA to take advantage of lower short-term interest rates over the next three years instead of drawing on its TIFIA loan. These notes resulted in net present value savings of $24 million.
More recently, to generate an additional $27 million in savings, OCTA took advantage of rising short-term interest rates by drawing its entire TIFIA loan and using the proceeds to pay off the Bond Anticipation Notes. The remaining funds are invested in U.S. treasuries yielding 4.38%.
“Our OCTA finance team has remained flexible throughout the project, always ready to act and find creative ways to take advantage of fluctuating interest rates to save taxpayer dollars,” said OCTA CEO Darrell E. Johnson. “I look forward to the public experiencing the full benefits of the I-405 Improvement Project when it’s completed later this year.”
The TIFIA loan will be repaid solely using the revenue collected from drivers who choose to use the 405 Express Lanes being built as part of the I-405 Improvement Project.
Toll revenue collected beyond what it costs to repay the loan will fund transportation improvements for everyone who travels throughout the 405 corridor – whether or not they use the Express Lanes. The realized savings will allow more money to be available sooner to make those additional improvements along I-405.
In addition, OCTA’s project financing will allow the 405 Express Lanes to remain free to two-person carpools during non-peak hours for the first 3 ½ years after the Express Lanes open, a commitment made by OCTA to the community prior to construction.
I-405 Improvement Project
The $2.1 billion I-405 Improvement Project, now more than 90% complete, is an essential part of fulfilling the promises made to voters through Measure M – Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, also known as OC Go.
The project will add one regular lane in each direction of I-405 between Euclid Street and I-605, and a second lane in each direction in the center of the freeway between SR-73 and I-605 that will combine with the existing carpool lanes to form the 405 Express Lanes.
This 16-mile segment of I-405 is one of the most heavily traveled stretches of highway in the nation, and drivers routinely face severe congestion in both the regular lanes and carpool lanes. The project, anticipated to be completed in late 2023, is critical to accommodate expected employment, population and housing growth throughout the region.
For more information about the project, visit octa.net/405improvement.
Fitch Ratings Upgrades Foothill/Eastern
Transportation Corridor Agency Toll Revenue Bonds
Fitch Ratings has upgraded the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency’s (F/ETCA) senior-lien and junior-lien bonds. The F/ETCA operates the 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads.
Following are the F/ETCA’s current bond ratings:
- S&P: A and A- respectively, with outlook stable
- Moody’s: Baa2 with outlook positive
- BBB+ and BBB respectively, with outlook positive
“The upgrade reflects (F/ETCA’s) prudent fiscal management and bond buybacks which has resulted in an improved debt profile coupled with a track record of continued strong traffic and revenue performance. The system has demonstrated strong traffic growth in six consecutive years leading up to the pandemic and has since shown a near full recovery, with revenues surpassing pre-pandemic levels,” stated Fitch Ratings in a release dated Jan. 26, 2023.
“Fitch Ratings’ decision to upgrade the bonds reflects the Agency’s financial strength and prudent fiscal planning that provide the stability needed to weather economic downturns and unforeseen events, such the pandemic, while also advancing important improvements to our roads,” said F/ETCA Chair and San Juan Capistrano City Council Member John Taylor.
“Every day, more people choose to drive The Toll Roads because of the predictable time savings and free-flow traffic conditions. This upgrade highlights the fiscal strength of the Agency. Fiscal prudence has been and remains the foundation for the Board’s approaches. It is important that the Agency continues its path of fiscal responsibility, while continuing to explore opportunities to strengthen its position,” said F/ETCA Vice Chair and Mission Viejo Mayor Pro Tem Trish Kelley.
“Strong fiscal management is core to the Agency’s past and future success,” said TCA CFO Amy Potter. “These decisions are driving the Agency’s mission to create opportunities to further reduce debt. Staff continues its commitment to working with our two Boards of Directors to focus on sound fiscal management and fulfilling the Agencies’ mission of providing congestion relief for the region.”
All bonds issued by the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) are rated investment grade. The bonds were issued to fund construction of the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads and are repaid using toll revenue. The Agencies have taken significant steps to manage debt by leveraging lower interest rates through bond refundings without extending maturity dates and considering plans for early paydown of the bonds prior to maturity as they become callable. In July 2022, F/ETCA used available cash reserves to pay down $125 million of bonds that would have matured in 2053, saving the Agency approximately $180 million in interest.
The F/ETCA and San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency (SJHTCA), which comprise TCA, are two joint powers authorities created to plan, finance, construct and operate Orange County’s 51-mile toll road network – the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads.
The upgrade by Fitch Ratings follows a recent rating upgrade for the SJHTCA bonds by Fitch in December 2022, as well as upgrades for the F/ETCA and SJHTCA bonds by S&P Global Ratings in February 2022 and November 2021, respectively.
In February 2022, S&P Global Ratings upgraded the F/ETCA senior-lien and junior-lien bonds to A and A-, respectively, with outlook stable. In November 2021, S&P Global Ratings has upgraded the SJHTCA senior-lien and junior-lien bonds to A and A- respectively, with outlook stable.
The Toll Roads have been providing a choice for drivers for nearly 25 years and the tolls collected are used to repay the debt incurred to construct the system and fund on-going operations and improvements.
The Toll Roads system, which represents 20% of Orange County’s highways, is the largest toll road network in California.
SCAG Releases 2023 Transportation Safety Targets
SCAG’s Regional Council approved the agency’s 2023 Transportation Safety Targets, which help align federal, state and local policies, plans and investments to advance transportation safety in the Southern California region.
On average, each year in Southern California, 1,450 people are killed, 5,500 are seriously injured, and 124,000 are injured in traffic collisions. Developing annual safety targets is a critical foundation to SCAG’s safety work and the 2023 targets align with the agency’s goal of achieving zero traffic-related deaths.
Additionally, SCAG has a number of collaborative safety resources available for jurisdictions like Go Human, a community engagement program with the goal of reducing traffic collisions and encouraging active transportation, and the SoCal Transportation Safety Resource Hub, a hub of data and resources encouraging transportation safety for all people in the Southern California region.
Crews continue work on the 15/91 Express Lanes Connector in Corona, one of many projects the Riverside County Transportation Commission is delivering to improve traffic operations and motorist options in southern California.
RCTC 2022 Annual Report Showcases Transportation Project Delivery, Public Transit, Environmental Protection, and More
It was a year marked by major investments in highway, road, public transit, and the environment like none other in the Riverside County Transportation Commission’s 46-year history. This progress is highlighted in the 2022 Annual Report presented to the RCTC Commission in February.
The Riverside County transportation network safely connects diverse communities, offers mobility choices, improves traffic operations, and streamlines the movement of goods, all of which help residents make important connections to school, work, family, friends, and things that matter most.
During 2022, RCTC invested $879 million in construction activity with support for 10,513 construction jobs. Five highway projects opened – the 91 Corridor Operations Project in Corona, the I-15 Railroad Canyon Road Interchange in Lake Elsinore, the Route 60 Truck Lanes in Riverside County’s Badlands between Beaumont and Moreno Valley, the I-15 Interim Corridor Operations Project in Corona, and the I-215 Placentia Avenue Interchange in Perris. Construction also continued on the 15/91 Express Lanes Connector Project in Corona.
At the local level, RCTC allocated $126 million in Measure A funding for 248 road projects countywide. Measure A is the twice voter-approved half-cent sales tax dedicated to transportation improvements in Riverside County.
Public transit was an ongoing focus in 2022. RCTC unanimously approved the program-level environmental document for the proposed Coachella Valley Rail passenger train service between Los Angeles and the Coachella Valley, a significant milestone for this long-range project. Efforts are under way to secure grant funding for a more in-depth project-level environmental review that could lead to future construction. Construction began on improvements to the Moreno Valley/March Field Metrolink Station in Riverside, and RCTC received $25 million toward costs to upgrade freight tracks to meet the standards for passenger rail, allowing an additional set of tracks for the 91/Perris Valley Line. RCTC also completed 25 other Metrolink station maintenance projects and continued to help fund seven local bus systems and 15 specialized transit services across the county.
In addition to highway, road, and rail projects, RCTC provides commuter assistance. The Freeway Service Patrol program aided 63,550 stranded motorists during the past year by jump-starting batteries, fixing flat tires, conducting other minor roadside repairs, or towing vehicles to CHP-approved locations. RCTC also encourages motorists to share rides, increasing its $2 per day incentive to $5 per day last year. The IE Commuter program supported 592 employers with ridesharing programs and provided subsidies to 40 vanpools, reducing 55,650 single occupancy trips and 7.2 million pounds of vehicle emissions.
Vehicle emission reductions is just one way that RCTC helps the environment. As the managing agency for the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority, RCTC supported efforts that added 2,445 acres of protected habitat toward the overall goal of preserving 500,000 acres. This habitat benefits 146 native animal and plant species.
Read more about RCTC’s 2022 work and accomplishments in the Annual Report infographic here