Spindrift September 8, 2022


Ken DuFour opened. Shirley Lashment prayed for our troops and healing for those with health issues or injuries. Fran Murphy led the pledge.


For the 15th year, Mike Gertner announced the start of the football pool. He distributed this week’s form, and instructed us how to complete it. Jeff Yeargain advised new vaccines to fight Omicron variants will be available in September and encouraged everyone to get vaccinated. He warned prices at fast food restaurants are expected to increase 20% if a proposed California law is enacted. Shirley has 150 reverse raffle tickets for sale for $100 each. One person will win $5,000, two will win $500 each, one will win $300, and thirteen will win $100 each. Tickets will be available next week and can be paid with cash or check or Dr. Bob Wood can bill you.

Dr. Bob announced quarterly payments are due and that September 8th is the first game for the football books.


Ken Dufour introduced Jeff Bott, Community Engagement Manager with the Toll Roads of Orange County. He has been with the Toll Roads 27 years and witnessed construction of most of its roads.

In the 1970s and 80s, facing an exploding population, Orange County was concerned about increasing traffic congestion. Plans were developed for new roads but neither state or federal funding was available to build them. Orange County and 18 cities worked with the State of California to create the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) to plan, finance, construct, and operate the 73, 133, 241, and 261 toll roads. The project was financed with bonds to be paid off using tolls and development fees.

Ken Dufour and Jeff Botts

Jeff described the Toll Roads as regional transportation lifelines offering faster routes for residents of Orange and neighboring counties. The breakdown of Fas Trak accountholders between Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties is 39%, 22%, 15%, 14%, and 10%, respectively. Using the Toll Roads is optional as each one has an adjacent freeway. The Toll Roads represent 20% of OC’s highway system and are the largest network of toll roads in California.

Jeff’s first trivia question was “How many Fas Trak accounts belong to Newport Beach residents?” About a third of Newport Beach’s residents (31,000 of 87,000) are accountholders. Fran’s answer was closest to 31,000 and won a TCA ice chest filled. Jeff stated 5,000 people set up accounts each week, and the 2.1 million accountholders average 330,000 trips per day.

In forming TCA, Orange County and the cities were committed to local control. TCA is managed by two Boards of Directors; one for the Foothill/Eastern toll roads (241, 261, and 133), the other, San Joaquin Hills (73). Elected officials from 17 member cities and several OC supervisors sit on these boards. Exchange Club and Newport Beach Council Member Will O’Neill is currently Chairman of the San Joaquin Hills Board. The boards are fiscally conservative and have saved over $600 million by paying down bonds early. Their fiscal responsibility has enabled TCA to weather economic challenges and to fund capital improvement projects without issuing debt.

Jeff discussed the impact of Covid. Traffic began to reduce the second week of March, 2020. The Boards responded quickly, shaving 51% off the budget while also continuing priority projects. As Covid restrictions increased, traffic and revenue continued to fall, bottoming out with declines of roughly 75% on the 73 and 64% on the other toll roads. Traffic has resumed back to pre Covid levels.

Jeff’s second trivia question was “Which Newport Beach Council Member served as San Joaquin Hills Chairman before Will O’Neill?” Diane Daruty guessed Rush Hill and won a TCA cooler.

The TCA has conserved and restored more than 2,000 acres of protected habitat at 17 Orange County locations. The Bonita Creek and Reservoir Project expanded what was once a narrow concrete channel to a thriving wetland and coastal sage scrub community. TCA has built wildlife corridors to protect and keep drivers, mountain lions, and other wildlife in their natural habitat. There is 6.5 miles of fencing with jump-out-ramps every half mile and about 40 wildlife under crossings. TCA has a cattle grazing pilot program where the cows eat weeds and bad parasites.

Expansion and enhancements continue on the Toll Roads. The Oso Parkway Bridge Project, connecting the 241 to Los Patrones Parkway, was opened in January 2021. Im- provements are planned for the 73 and I-5’s carpool lane from Avenida Pico to the San Diego county line.

Jeff Yeargain asked how TCA collects unpaid tolls. Jeff replied TCA cameras capture images of vehicles, enabling it to use license plate numbers to bill those without accounts or failing to display a sticker or transponder. In the early years, 10% of vehicles per day drove and never paid, but that rate has dropped to 4%. TCA sends multiple notices to those who skip payment. Ultimately, TCA can place a hold on DMV registrations for non payment.

Jeff shared examples of people stealing from TCA. When TCA accepted cash at toll booths, a jogger ran down the toll road and grabbed cash from the booths as he ran past. Some people cover their license plates so TCA can’t track them down for payment. However, this wasn’t enough for one van. Although he successfully covered the license plate, the driver apparently forgot the side of the van displayed the name of his plumbing company.
Gina Lesley asked why TCA replaced-transponders with stickers. Jeff said stickers are less expensive allowing TCA to provide accountholders multiple stickers without a fee. Transponders may still be used but will be phased out eventually.

Jeff was asked about toll rate increases. He replied TCA increases fees 2% annually, although it waived the increase in 2020.

Jeff pulled the winning raffle tickets. Leo Fracalosy and Ed Romeo each won $22.



Sept 8  -  Tom Johnson, Editor StuNewsNewport.com

Pres. Ken DuFour

Sept 15  -  Business Meeting, Tom Miller Candidate for
Newport Beach Councid District 1

Sept 22  -  Erik Weigand, Candidate for Newport Beach Council District 3

Sept 29  -  Kate Malouf, Teen Project

October 6  - Terri Walsh, Banning Ranch

This week we will be at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club. Lunch will be served at 12:20 pm. You will be emailed an invitation two days before the meeting. Please notify Richard Swinney by this Wed 2 PM if you are planning on attending.

Diane Daruty, Editor

Diane Daruty, Editor