Support building stable, long-term funding
● In March, the California Transportation Commission approved the 2014 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). This action provided $243 million in state and federal funding commitments toward freeway, local interchange, and rail projects in Orange County and supports OCTA’s initiative to invest more than $5 billion in transportation improvements to reduce congestion, improve mobility and enhance safety throughout Orange County.
● OCTA submitted applications for $240 million in grants from federal, state and local sources and was successful in receiving nearly $198 million.
● OCTA created a path forward to allow continued receipt of federal transit funding grants previously held up due to challenges to state pension reforms based on federal 13(c) collective bargaining protections.
Collaborate with regional partners on transportation initiatives
● In 2014, Assembly Bill 401 became effective helping OCTA secure legislative authority for the use of the design-build project delivery method for projects on the state highway system until 2024, including for the Interstate 405 Improvement Project.
● In 2014, Assembly Bill 417 became effective exempting bikeway plans in urban areas from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), allowing expedited delivery of those projects.
● OCTA worked with Metrolink and other regional partners to negotiate a change in the transit industry position to advocate for implementation of Positive Train Control.
● OCTA coordinated a regional and state response to burdensome federal Buy America requirements, resulting in temporary regulatory relief.
● OCTA advocated for a reasonable, flexible, economically viable and balanced approach as regulations and follow-up legislation relating to Assembly Bill 32-climate protection and greenhouse gas reduction mandates-were considered.
In June, OCTA approved a balanced $1.1 billion budget for FY 2014-2015 which includes major initiatives to sustain bus and rail service levels, closes out Measure M1, continues Measure M2 improvements, and operates the 91 Express Lanes.
Rating upgrade for the 91 Express Lanes
● Standard & Poor’s (S&P) upgraded the rating on OCTA’s 91 Express Lanes Series 2013 Refunding Bonds debt from A to AA- with a stable outlook for the future. The AA- rating is an unusual two-notch rating increase. S&P cited the 91 Express Lanes solid financial metrics, the completion of the new general purpose lanes on the SR-91 and an effective toll policy as some the reasons for the rating upgrade.