Rating Agency Cites Strong Market Position, Management, Governance of Orange County Toll Road

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

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In yet another indication of the financial strength of the Transportation Corridor Agencies, aka The Toll Roads of Orange County, S&P Global Ratings has upgraded the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency’s (SJHTCA) senior-lien and junior-lien bonds to A and A- respectively, with outlook stable. The SJHTCA operates the 73 Toll Road.

“The rating reflects our opinion of the SJHTCA's strong enterprise risk and financial risk profiles,” stated S&P Global Ratings in the RatingsDirect report dated Nov. 3, 2021.

The 73 Toll Road’s robust and ongoing recovery from impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated effects were acknowledged by S&P. The Toll Roads system overall has seen recovery and the negative financial impacts have diminished.

In a statement, SJHTCA Chair and Mission Viejo Mayor Trish Kelley said, “S&P Global’s decision to upgrade the bonds is a reflection of how hard the Board of Directors and staff have worked to ensure that The Toll Roads retain a strong financial position and that the Agency is positioned to provide excellent service and be sustainable into the future.

“The decision is also an indicator of Orange County’s economy coming out of the worst of the pandemic and that The Toll Roads are an asset, providing congestion relief for the region.”

In a statement, SJHTCA Vice Chair and Newport Beach City Councilmember Will O’Neill said, “S&P Global’s rating upgrade 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 the73 Toll Road. Every day, more people choose to drive The Toll Roads because of the predictable time savings and free-flow traffic conditions.”

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. The Agencies have taken significant steps to manage debt by leveraging lower interest rates and considering plans for early paydown as the bonds become callable.

The SJHTCA and Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA), 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 Toll Roads have been providing a choice for drivers for more than 20 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.

TCA/The Toll Roads of Orange County is a bronze-level Leaders Circle partner of the Greater Irvine Chamber.

The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) are two joint powers authorities formed using authorities provided by the California Legislature in 1986 to plan, finance, construct and operate Orange County’s public toll road system comprised of the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads.

Category: transportation, Orange County, Business Excellence